KALUMBILA Minerals Limited (KML) in Solwezi has created 150 jobs for local people through the US$6 million Timber Recovery Project.
The Timber Recovery Project involves cutting down trees to pave way for the construction of the
K10 billion KML Trident Project in Solwezi.
This is as a result of First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML) through its subsidiary, KML,
introducing a Timber Recovery Project with a capital injection of $6 million.
The Trident Project encompasses three mines, namely, Sentinel which would be of low grade copper, Enterprise, a nickel mine and the yet-to-be explored Intrepid.
KML resettlement and community affairs manager Garth Lappeman said in an interview with the Sunday Times in Solwezi that the timber project was established two years ago as a way of avoiding wastage of trees.
"The project is purely sustainability-based, to avoid burning a precious resource but generates jobs and obtains value from it," Mr Lappeman said.
The project was a brainchild of FQML chief executive officer (CEO) Phillip Pascall who pumped in the $6 million for the sawmill because he did not want the good timber go to waste through burning to pave way for the three mines under the Trident Project.
"The CEO basically said, 'I don't want to burn the good timber, so here is $6 million, set up a sawmill, try and recover and create economic value from as much of the timber as you can. So that's why we set this up," Mr Lappeman said.
Mr Lappeman said the other value derived from the Timber Recovery Project was the creation of the 150 jobs, with less than 20 of those being skilled workers from the Copperbelt while the rest were locally recruited and imparted with skills.
He, however, lamented that the project was currently running at a loss because it was not operating on a commercial basis serve for the supply of timber to the mine at minimal cost and the ban on timber exports.
Mr Lappeman said there was enough timber to keep the project operational for at least five years, but hinted that the lifespan could be longer once the Enterprise and Intrepid projects were operational.
The Sentinel copper plant is currently under construction and is expected to be commissioned in April next year.
One of the beneficiaries of the timber project, Kafwilu Nyazebo, who is among the villagers
displaced by the Trident Project, told journalists that he was happy working at the project as he was earning more money than he used to as a farmer.