First Quantum Minerals (FQM), a strong advocate for environmental conservation, has delivered 5,000 stoves to communities in a new initiative to minimise deforestation and pollution.
The Village Stoves programme involves FQM, in line with its environmental policy, teaming up with Zambia-based carbon credit and environmental company, The African Stove Company (TASC), and local small-scale manufacturers to develop a low-cost stove that is about 60% more efficient than conventional open-fire stoves used in Zambia’s remote areas.
TASC has over 20 years’ experience in international energy innovation and environmental projects.
The pilot programme, which was launched last year, involves installation of 5,000 United Nations-accredited twig-burning stoves in the communities surrounding the company’s Kansanshi mine in Solwezi.
On average, the new stoves have a UN-tested water boiling efficiency of 40% as opposed to 10% on an open fire; by comparison a kettle is 80% efficient – and is estimated to save 2.5 tonnes of carbon emissions per stove each year.
This means that over the seven-year lifetime of the project each stove – provided it is being used daily as a replacement for traditional fires – will save 17.5 tonnes of carbon.
The pilot phase therefore has a potential carbon saving of 87 500 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to about 3,000 30-tonne trucks of firewood).
Kansanshi Foundation co-ordinator Guy Hammond said the nature of the fuel used by the stove (twigs) lends itself to normal tree mortality rates and sustainable twig harvesting of forests, which naturally shed dead branches.
“This project has been over two years in the pipeline, but we are delighted that FQM is leading the way in doing our part to combat climate change and deforestation in North-Western Province,” he said.
“The exponential growth of Solwezi and Kalumbila towns due to our mining operations has seen an explosion of charcoal production to feed an ever-growing market, exacerbated now by the power crisis we are facing as a country. With the Village Stove programme, FQM has taken a proactive approach to saving our forests.”
What’s more, the upgraded traditional cooking stoves also make use of cutting-edge technology. Each stove is tagged by GPS transmitter and its fixed location is uploaded onto the UN carbon credit platform database. Annual random inspections by UN-accredited officers ensure the stoves are being used and are where they are supposed to be, and then carbon credits are awarded for sale on the open market.
Kansanshi Foundation Manager Bruce Lewis says: “Aside from the improved efficiency that dramatically reduces the amount of charcoal and wood needed to cook, the stove’s design also helps significantly reduce the risk of excessive smoke inhalation for the user by diverting the minimal amount of smoke the stove may produce safely away from the cooking area.”
Smoke inhalation is one of the leading causes of respiratory problems among village dwellers especially women who do most of the cooking.
“Lower smoke levels not only mean lower risk of smoke-related illnesses among members of the local communities but also lower carbon emissions, thereby helping Zambia combat climate change.
“There is need for collaborative efforts from stakeholders in promoting sustainable management of trees and forests, and to mitigate the ill-effects of climate change. Our goal is to ensure we prioritise long-term environmental sustainability and promote the welfare of the communities in which we operate.”
The Village Stove makes use of unique thermofluidic flows created by a specially designed metal frame to minimise energy loss and ensure the highest possible amount of heat energy is directed to the base of the cooking pot.
The frame is bricked in to the kitchen wall for maximum safety and convenience.
Some 50 local manufacturers have been engaged to manufacture the frames.
The mine will lead the distribution exercise and train officers to carry out installation, maintenance and community training on their use.
“We will also work with traditional leaders to train communities on the importance of forest conservation. The initiative will be linked to a Gum Tree project which will provide a sustainable source of firewood for the stoves, thus help fight deforestation in rural areas,” added Mr Lewis.
And TASC founder Alick MacIntosh said he was happy to be working with FQM and was looking forward to seeing more stoves installed at the end of the pilot phase.
“I am delighted to be working with First Quantum as they bring a level of professionalism and community reach to the project and provide a natural home for sustainability projects such as ours.” he said.