MINES and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe says government is trying to reorganise mining dumpsites including the Black Mountain as a way of bringing sanity to the small-scale mining sector.

At a press briefing, Wednesday, Kabuswe urged youths and those in small scale mining to form cooperatives, after which government would offer them artisanal mining licenses for small scale miners.

“I specifically want to address the issue of the dumpsites which are actually sending wrong signals and people are making wrong statements and they are sending misunderstandings to members of the public. So we want to make it clear where we stand in terms of the dumpsites which we as the new dawn government want to help the youths of Zambia to benefit and also through that to raise capital for them to begin to run small scale mines,” he said.

“We had decided to reorganise the dumpsites, especially the troublesome black mountain. Why we told our youths to sort of lay back is because we wanted to reorganize it. So what we are saying is that we are encouraging all those that are in small scale mining including the small scale miners association to form cooperatives. The youths must form cooperatives and when they form those cooperatives, then they will have to come to the ministry of mines and we will be able to offer them what we call artisanal mining licenses which are basically small licenses for small scale miners.”

Kabuswe said once youths get licenses, they will go through some mining training on safety and how to conduct themselves as they carry out their mining activities.

“I have already engaged officers in my ministry to streamline it, to make it easy for our youths or our small scale miners to easily get artisanal mining licenses. And then we have also spoken to the mining safety department and through the mining safety department to some mining companies like Mopani who are going to provide safety officers to run our youths the safety requirements. So that when they eventually get onto the mining activities, then they are going to do it in a safe environment,” he said.

“We don’t want what has happened in the past where our youths are just mining in confusion and also we want to avoid disasters. So after the youths get the licenses, they are then going to go through some mining training, some comprehensive training that is in safety and the way they will conduct themselves as they do their mining activities. We are doing this to protect our youths and we are reorganizing the dumpsite including the black mountain so that our youths can benefit. The key is that small scale miners must benefit, must have a fair share or a fair shot at mining from the various dumpsites that are dotted across the country.”

The mines minister said government wanted to bring sanity in the way small-scale mining was conducted.

“When His Excellency the President was campaigning, one of the things he said was ‘we are going to bring sanity to the way dumpsites are mined’, and this is exactly what the new dawn government is doing. It’s to bring sanity to the way that we do small-scale mining. What I can assure the youths of Zambia, the small scale mines is that whatever we are doing in these dumpsites is for their benefit. We are not stopping it to give a particular individual, no! We want to reorganize and make sure the benefits accrue to everyone and in a way that everyone benefits. So we actually need to understand it from that score,” he said.

“We are not trying to stop anyone, we are not trying to unfairly give it to anyone, no! We want fairness. In our campaign as the new dawn government, His Excellency the President made it very clear that we want Zambians to have a fair share, to have a fair shot at the mineral wealth that this country has and one of them is the way in which we remove all corrupt activities around the mining dumpsites.”

Kabuswe said youths and small-scale miners were still entitled to 30 percent of the Black Mountain.

“I want to say something about a company called Nkana Alloy. When those dumpsites were given to Nkana Alloy, in the past there was an outcry, they bought it from ZCCM-IH. So Nkana Alloy bought that dump site, now there was an outcry from Zambians that there is no way they can buy the whole dumpsite leaving out small scale miners who are Zambians. So what happened is that there was an agreement that a certain percentage of the black mountain be given to our youths and all small scale miners. And the agreement was Nkana Alloy takes 70 percent and the youths are given 30 percent of the dumpsite. Nkana Alloy went to court that time and the court ruled that it belongs to Nkana Alloy,” he said.

“When we said ‘let’s reorganize’, it never touched any legal mines that are sitting on any dumpsite because we cannot go against what the law has said. If there is a way to revisit that agreement, we have to engage Nkana Alloy but for now, our youths and small scale miners are entitled to 30 percent. Now why I said we withdraw is because we want to reorganize. Because what had happened in the previous regime is that only a few clicks were benefiting from that. For us as the new dawn government, we want all the youths, all the small-scale miners who are involved in mining to be able to benefit, and we also have to do it orderly, that is why we are saying they form cooperatives.”

Kabuswe said dumpsites should be used as a way for youths to raise enough capital.

“We know that the mining methods and mining technology has actually advanced, so we want to urge our youths to take advantage and begin to do these activities. What we want to avoid is number one, only the same people benefiting, or the same families benefiting. What we want is a cross-section of our youths to be able to benefit from the dumpsites that are dotted across the country,” said Kabuswe.

“I want to say this to our youths and small scale miners, when this activity begins, please that is what we call in mining a wasting resource. Meaning at some point those dumpsites are going to be depleted. So when you raise the money as small scale mining, as the youths, make sure you put those monies together so that now then we can go to begin explorations on small scale mining, we partner together. For me, those dumpsites should be used as a way for our youths to raise enough capital.”