Zambia Closes Chinese Mine Over Air Pollution

May 14, 2007
Lack of pollution controls threatens health of area residents.

Zambia has shut down a Chinese-run mine because its contribution to air pollution which threatens the health of hundreds of residents of nearby townships, an official said on May 14.

Chiman Manufacturing Limited, which mines Manganese, was indefinitely closed on May 11 for failing to put in place air pollution control mechanisms, said Justin Mukosa, spokesman of the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ), a statutory regulator.

The mining plant had been emitting air pollution beyond the statutory limits, affecting hundreds of residents of nearby townships, he added. "We will only re-open the mine once all the environmental concerns have been addressed," Mukosa said.

Chiman opened the $200 million mine about two years ago in Kabwe, a mining town 150 kilometers north of the capital, Lusaka. The area is known as one of the world's most polluted places from decades of mining substances like copper and lead, with serious health implications for residents.

Mukosa said Chiman had also been found liable for failing to provide adequate personal protective equipment for staff.

Zambia has lately experienced an influx of Chinese investors in mining, manufacturing and agriculture, but their safety record is viewed with suspicion especially after more than 50 workers died in an explosion at a Chinese-owned copper mine in 2005.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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