Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu is incompetent and unqualified to effectively run the operations at the mine, which has led to the mine facing a number of environmental hazards.

Commenting on the last Thursday’s incident where 53 KCM employees and 232 pupils at Nchanga Trust School were evacuated to Nchanga South Mine Hospital in Chingola after inhaling toxic gas from an acid spillage at Konkola Copper Mines, Sinkamba expressed serious concern at the growing number of environmental hazards, which had occurred at KCM since its arbitrary provisional takeover.

“We are very concerned ourselves, as the Green Party, that they have been a lot of hazards in the operations of KCM ever since this the liquidator took over the operations earlier this year. And we are very worried because we had an incident in June, and we had another incident of fatality in June, and then, we had the issue of sulphur dioxide emissions, which were in excess and caused 40 miners to be hospitalized and also affecting 300 students who were also hospitalized because of the emissions from the operations there,” Sinkamba said in an interview.

“And this to us, is the result of the liquidator who was appointed by government to liquidate KCM. Mr Milingo Lungu is incompetent, according to the mine laws, to run an operation like that. His continued operations at KCM are illegal because he lacks the qualifications required for a person who is going to be a license holder or a mining manager and who can run the operations in a more safe and prudent manner. So, that is where the problem is we having at KCM. We have an illegality there where someone who is not qualified to run a mine operations is running mining operations, contrary to the provisions of the mining laws, which is absolutely not correct.”

He insisted that government had created an illegality at KCM by imposing an incompetent manager to oversee KCM’s sensitive operations.

“Government has created an illegality at KCM by imposing someone to be the manager of that operation when this person lacks the qualifications to be a mine manager; lacks competency to operate a mining facility like that. You know the way the law operates is that, if Milingo Lungu was appointed to be liquidator, he should have been a liquidator for restructuring even that he should have been only on site for only three days and after that, only competent people should handle the operation,” Sinkamba said.

“So, really, the liquidation is not about restructuring and according to the Mining Act, when a mine is placed under liquidation, immediately the mining license must be revoked. But he (Milingo) is mining under a mining license, which should have been revoked upon the company being placed under liquidation. That is illegal. So, we have an illegality, which is propelled by government and as a result of that illegality, we are having all these problems.”

And Sinkamba warned of increased fatalities and environmental hazards if government hesitated in appointing a qualified and competent person to manage KCM.

“Provided that we are going to continue to have Mr Milingo Lungu to run those operations, we will have a lot of fatalities; we will have a lot of people that are going to lose their lives and we have a huge problem in terms of environmental disaster because the person who is there is incompetent and he is not qualified to run the mining operations! He is there contrary to the provisions of the mining operations,” said Sinkamba.

“It is like you take someone who is not qualified as a doctor, you take him to go and be in charge of surgery department or be in charge of a hospital and start prescribing medicines for patients! Do you really think that you are going to do the right thing? Because it will cause a lot of people to die! You get someone who is incompetent to drive you; give him a bus to drive to Lusaka, you will kill people along the way! Only a PSV driver is able to drive a PSV bus. Only a certified doctor is supposed to run a hospital. And only a competent person as prescribed by the Mining Act is supposed to run a mining operation.”