By JOHN SAKALA
The ground at Nchanga Open pit is caving in after Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) geo-technical assessments showed the cracks in a section of the pit will cause a slough.
Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has moved in with precision, knowing the exact location, diameter and amount of ground to be affected.
Speaking to Reporters today in Chingola, KCM Chief Executive Officer Christopher Sheppard said the caving in is likely to take place between today July 2 and July 7.
The last time this happened in 2001, 10 miners died and several mine equipment was buried at Nchanga Open Pit.
After that incidence, the mine employed new geotechnical equipment, which monitors ground movement nearly every hour.
Mr Sheppard said the slough (caving in) was caused by abnormal rainfall and leaking of high pressure 31 inch water pipes, which transport water from Kafue River to KCM plant and Mulonga Water treatment plant.
The pipes have intermittently been leaking due to uneven ground, which causes damage to the pipes thereby weakening the ground.
He said KCM has engaged in sensitization high gear to ensure that both property and lives are not lost.
“I wish to assure everyone that there is no house that will be affected by the caving in. Our precaution measures are to ensure that miners, innocent children or some people that enter the mine illegally are not caught up in the slough. We have engaged ZANIS to begin announcing about the impending caving in. We have also deployed Zambia police and KCM Mine Police to man the area to ensure no one goes beyond ‘the no go zone.’
“This is why we have also invited you the media as our key stakeholder to help in disseminating of the information to the people,” he said.
Mr Sheppard said KCM has implemented a number of measures to avert a significant impact of the predicted caving-in of ground on people, essentially communities around the mining area and the employees.
He said the caving in will cover a stretch of approximately 350 meters and a thickness of 40 metres amounting to 20 million tonnes of ground.
Other measures taken are the rerouting of KCM power lines and two lines of 31 inch water pipes to a safer zone.
Mr Sheppard admitted that if the caving can happen today the Nchanga Smelter and parts of Chingola townships would face some water shortages, but emphasized that KCM teams were working through the nights to complete the rerouting of water pipes and electricity poles in record time.