Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited has opposed to an application for an injunction by 224 subjects and landholders of Senior Chief Chiwala’s area of Masaiti District that want the company restrained from continuing to carry out any mining works or developments on their farmland and villages.

It has submitted to the Lusaka High Court that restraining it from carrying out its mining operations will not in anyway assist the plaintiffs whose claim is for payment of substantial and adequate compensation as well as damages for loss of use of land.

Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited has argued that it will instead be detrimental to it as it stands to lose colossal amounts of money from any halting of its mining operations with the result that they will be unable to pay the plaintiffs in the unlikely event of the court finding that the compensation was inadequate.

It added that moreover, it has committed to pay any upward revision over disbursed amounts and the compensation offered should it be deemed necessary by the court.

In this matter, 224 subjects and landholders under senior Chief Chiwala’s Chiefdom of Copperbelt Province’s Masaiti District have sued Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited, Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), Majaliwa Muwaya (sued in his capacity as senior Chief Chiwala) and Dangote Industries (Zambia) Limited, seeking a declaration that Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited has failed to address or mitigate the adverse social and economic impacts of their cement project on the plaintiffs to acceptable levels.

Jeff Murebwa and 223 others who commenced the action in 2013, also want an order directing Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited and Dangote Industries (Zambia) Limited to subject all the plaintiffs to medical examination at the Pneumoconiosis Health Facility, Kitwe, as a consequence of the plaintiffs having been exposed to blasting fumes and dust by the said companies’ activities.

The plaintiffs further want, among other claims, an order directing that the Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited and Dangote Industries (Zambia) Limited’s operation be shut down until adequate compensation has been paid in full to all plaintiffs, and damages for their loss of use of land.

The plaintiffs recently applied for an order of injunction in the Lusaka High Court to restrain Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited from continuing to carry out any mining works or developments on their farm land and villages.

Jeff Murebwa and 223 others further want the defendants to be restrained from interfering with their rights and ownership of their properties and assets until the determination of the matter or until further order.

According to an affidavit in support of application for order of interim injunction filed on December 11, this year, Charles Murebwa and David Murebwa of Murebwa Farm, Peter Mafinge of Suse village, Anold Musonda of Chingwele village and Obed Mandizvidza of Kalulu village in Masaiti District, stated that unless restrained by the court, Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited threatens to continue with the mining operations or activities thereby exposing them and the other plaintiffs, their families and property to serious danger.

But in an affidavit in opposition to an affidavit in support of summons for an interim injunction filed, December 16, Emely Kajokoto, the Dangote Quarries’ Logistics Officer, highlighted to the court that Charles and David Murebwa were not parties to the action and therefore had no locus standi to depose to the affidavit in support.

She added that the two cannot move the court as they had no claim against the defendants.

Kajokoto further stated that it was not correct that all the plaintiffs fall within the Dangote Quarries’ large scale mining license area.

She stated that Dangote Quarries’ defence will show that only 95 people had fields which fell within its mine license area whilst only 76 people had fields that fell within its plant area and not all of the aforesaid people were plaintiffs in the matter.

“A reading of the pleadings on record will show that one of the issues in dispute for this court to determine is the number of plaintiffs who fall within the first defendants (Dangote Quarries’) mine and plant areas and whether the first defendant is required to provide compensation for the people falling within its mine license area, but are not affected by the mining activities,” Kajokoto stated.

“The number of fields in both the plant and mining area was 171 and the first defendant will show at trial that most of the people indicated as plaintiffs in this action do not fall within the affected area.”

She listed 90 plaintiffs as those who do not fall within the affected plant or mining area.

Kajokoto stated that Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited and all affected farmers and occupants of the area being utilised by the company, agreed on the compensation payable as well as the alternative land to be provided.

She stated that the record would further show that in addition to the construction of houses for individuals who were displaced from Dangote Quarries’ mine area, alternative land or a relocation site for farmers who had fields in the area was identified and designated on agreement of all the affected parties before some later reneged from their agreement and instituted the current action.

Kajokoto stated that in view of that, the plaintiffs cannot claim as they have done, that they have been prevented from carrying out their farming activities due to loss of their agricultural fields.

She further stated that no individual was resident or cultivated from the area where Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited conducts its blasting operations as well as excavation being, the mine area.

“Dangote Quarries (Zambia) Limited commenced its mining operations as well as production of cement in the year 2015 and has been carrying out the blasting and other operations incidental to mining since then,” stated Kajokoto.