Editorial: KCM has gone to bed with the Devil

Editorial Op-Ed

Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) boasts of being one of the largest employer in Zambia and also the backbone of the economy of Chingola, Chililabombwe, Kitwe and Nampundwe where it operate.

Though KCM is known for delayed payment to its contractors and suppliers, the mining firm has in the past stood tall on the matters related to mine safety.

Its fatality rate had been very low and each time there was an accident, all involved parties would accept that really it was an accident.

The firm received several international awards for best safety practices. KCM is also a recipient of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) award because of its best safety practices.

Nchanga underground mine remains one of the safest underground mines in the world.

KCM is known for several safety campaigns aimed at creating awareness among employees with the current being ‘Safety Stand Down.’

However, the mining firm has in the past three months recorded three fatal accidents in which lack of safety by the mine has been the paramount cause.

But what has led to this anomaly of sudden surge in mine fatalities?

Things went sour at KCM the day the mining firm dated the Devil in the hope of boosting its production.

Under the administration of Stephen Din, KCM outsourced some major departments to Chinese firm whose safety record has nothing to report home about.

Despite a stalemate with the three mine unions namely Mines Union of Zambia (MUZ), United Mine Workers of Zambia and National Union of Miners and Allied Workers KCM forced things out and went ahead to outsource.

This matter is in the Court of Arbitration following a stalemate between the union and KCM.

But from the time KCM outsourced its major part of Konkola underground mine, the area has recorded more fatal accidents than those run by KCM employees.

Unlike road fatal accidents, mine fatal accident remain the news headliner in the entire world.

Even miners just been trapped at underground is a serious media headliner and a big concern to any Government hosting the mine, the community where the mine is, mine employees including the buyers of the same copper.

The stats at KCM show that there is a lapse of some safety procedures for any fatality listed below.

On August 8, the day before yesterday, Fredrick Musonda, a Rig operator was run over by a loader at Shaft # 4, the famous Konkola Deep Mining. Many questions are begging answers.

Mr Musonda was an employee of MMS formerly JCHX for Chinese. On July 26 this year, Benson Solochi 50, a Locomotive Driver and an employee of Rockcrete Company, a Sub contractor of MMS was blasted while walking in the haulage.

Haulage is considered the safest place underground.

The blasting was being conducted about two metres away from the haulage and no one was in the same haulage to warn other employees of the basting exercise.

On June 15, this year, Ezekiel Mwape 35, a Scraper Driver for KCM contractor, Lukoria General Dealers at Nchanga Underground, blasted himself where he had his right hand cut off and stomach ripped open.

An underground mine is a wet place which makes explosive not very susceptible to exploding without ignition.

More importantly explosives are not highly flammable to easily explode but one wonders what happened exactly.

KCM wanted an easy way out to boost its production by outsourcing some of its major areas of operations thereby going to bed with firms that have completely poor safety record.

The Zambian Government, Parliamentarians in the areas where KCM operate, mine unions and employees resisted the outsourcing but KCM made solo decision.

May the mining firm bear the burden of listening to itself.