By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
Small scale miners in Chingola have called for sensitisation in the district if underage involvement in small scale mining in the district is to be contained.
Speaking during a meeting held at the Civic Center yesterday, UPND Chingola youth Chairman Jerry Mumba said that if any underage is seen engaging in small scale mining, that child will be arrested and punished by the police through the social welfare.
Mr Mumba said that it is unfortunate that over 50 underage children have died due illegal mining in a short period of time.
He said small scale mining brings income in the district, but there is need for the bosses of the small scale miners to ensure that underage children are not allowed to engage in the mining activities.
Speaking at the same meeting, One Pride Mining Group Chairman Maxwell Kyamba popularly known as Tablet said the Chinese should be talked to as well as they just buy mining products from anyone.
Mr Kyamba said the vice has made it hard for the underage children that have been exposed to mining to concentrate on education.
He suggested that if the Chinese buyers are found buying products from an underage child, they should be punished according the laws of the land.
And the treasurer for One Pride Small Scale Mine Godfrey Kapembwa said it has always been a challenge to completely remove the under aged children from the open-pit mines as they often find their way back amidst several warnings.
Mr Kapembwa said some small-scale miners’ leaders have been trying to sponsor the children to school, but in matter of time they return back to the pits to work.
He said that parents or guardians must also be cautioned because some turn to pay a blind eye to their minor children’s livelily activities.
“I welcome this move because, knowing that together with the Government we can change the current situation and have our children go back to school, I want to call upon parents and guardians to refrain from sending their children to work at open-pit mines as this is a crime and punishable by law,” he said.
One Pride Executive Secretary Martin Kalunga said there is need to also invite Chinese miners in the district as they are the end buyers who mostly do not care about the ages of their suppliers
Mr Kalunga said that if underage mining is to be contained in the district, then the Government deal with it on both ends
And UPND district Chairman Lady Mary Nyirenda questioned the leaders of the small miners on how underage children find themselves working in the mining activities if efforts to sport the trend have been made.
Ms Nyirenda called for concerted efforts from the leaders of the small scale miners to spearhead in encouraging the children to enroll in school.
She said the Government does not want idle minds, hence the introduction of free education for all to access, she also condemned the abuse the junior small scale miners go through.
And Chingola Mayor Johnson Kang’ombe called on small-scale miners to desist from using children in their mining activities as the practice exposes them to long adverse health effects.
Mr Kang’ombe said that child labor is a crime and punishable by the laws of the land.
“Exposing children to mining is child labor, not only that that it kills the interest in education as they eventually become used to having and handling money on daily base, there is need for small-scale miners and other stakeholders need to join hands to remove children from open-pit mines and take them back to school,” he said.
Mr Kang’ombe said it’s said that end-users and foreign nationals will be engaged so that the fight against underage mining is curbed.
He said that sensitisation programs will be introduced as well so that the general citizenry is aware of the dangers of child labor and abuse through scale mining.
“I want to call upon guardian and parents to work together with the mining firms and Government so that this vice can be stopped we are tired of losing young lives to open pit mining,” he said.