MINES and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe has asked chrome hand pickers at the Black Mountain in Kitwe to “survive in an orderly manner”, saying government wants to eliminate confusion in all areas.

In an interview, Monday, Kabuswe said government wanted to dialogue with the hand pickers to ensure a well-structured operation.

“The only thing we need to deal with is the chrome and the hand pickers, that is where the issues are coming from. Government has structures, we want a structured operation not just to be all over the place. We want it to be structured and so they are resisting the rule of the law. We are trying to engage them, of course, we don’t want to be rough on them, we want to engage them and talk to them nicely. They are also just trying to survive but they have to survive in an orderly manner. That order which they need to understand must be there. Basically, that is what is happening otherwise operations are ongoing,” he said.

“Where there is a group of people you expect anything, you don’t get surprised. As a leader, you expect anything, anytime and so you must be ready for anything that can occur at any time. So when that happened, of course, there were some issues to do with probably an oversight by the people that were around. So it happened but there were no injury issues. So our approach is dialogue, dialogue with them and explain why we want them not to do what they were doing because then their lives will be in danger. So we want to protect their lives.”

He said his government wanted to remove the confusion in all areas of the mining sector, noting that it took over a sector which was in a confused state.

“I’m taking it as something positive, it is a good progress to have because then you want to deal with the people and make them be structured. They need to have a structure for them to operate in a way that will see benefits go to a wide section of the population. That is what is crucial. So it is a challenge but when we get it right then our people will benefit from what we are doing. We took over something that was in a confused state, most of the issues were in court,” said Kabuswe.

“For us to bring order, we need to get our people to make sure that all the indications and whatever is around in the mining sector, we deal with it so that we can have a well organised structured mining sector. That’s when we will see the benefits. So we want to remove the confusion in all areas including the black mountain. We need more patience from our people, we will get it correct.”