KALUMBILA Minerals Limited (KML), a subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals (FQM), is no stranger to controversy concerning the new mines being set up in Solwezi.
KML's K10 billion Trident Project encompassing three mines namely, Sentinel, Enterprise and Intrepid, raised dust which is yet to settle among concerned parties.
The Sentinel Project worth US$2 billion currently under construction will be dealing in low-grade copper while the Enterprise will focus on nickel. The minerals Intrepid Mine will concentrate on are yet to be known.
The controversy stems from the displacement the Trident Project will cause in its operational area, 150 kilometres west of Solwezi, off the T5 Road to Mwinilunga.
The Trident Project has displaced 570 families representing 1,400 farmers with crops on 787 hectares of traditional land, 105 livestock farmers, 100 bee keepers, more than 200 graves, 18 water sources, seven churches, one school, three sports fields and one market.
The construction of Chisola Dam is arguably what sparked the worst controversy in the Trident Project.
It is the land around the Chisola River where the 105 livestock farmers used to take their cattle for grazing.
However, that will not be the case owing to the construction of the dam, hence the outcry.
The purpose of damming the Chisola River is to divert it as it flows through the Enterprise mine deposit as well as use huge quantities of water to the Sentinel processing plant using a pipeline that will be installed.
Musangejhi River is another water source which has been affected by the Trident Project and thus has to be dammed because Musangejhi Dam is the main diversion dam for Sentinel Mine.
KML has since restocked Musangejhi Dam with 7,000 tilapia fingerlings for the benefit of the Kankonjhi community which has been affected by the project.
The controversial Chisola Dam will also be restocked with fish.
In May this year, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA)'s protection order halted the construction of Chisola Dam.
The move to block the construction of the dam prompted FQM in June to announce that it would lay off 500 workers as the company could not sustain the high workforce while it waited for ZEMA to lift the protection order.
A month earlier, FQM government relations manager John Gladston announced that KML had employed more than 2,000 Zambians, majority of whom hailed from Senior Chief Musele's chiefdom.
As expected, the Government intervened in the matter, resulting in FQM rescinding its decision to lay off the workers.
The Government has since allowed KML to go ahead with the construction of Chisola Dam, much to the disgust of a consortium of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), among other concerned citizens.
On September 5 and 6, 2013, journalists from the print and electronic media toured KML to check on the progress recorded so far, a follow-up tour to that which was undertaken a fortnight earlier.
KML assistant general manager Tristan Pascall and his resettlement and community affairs manager Garth Lappeman were on hand to avail journalists the necessary information related to the Trident Project.
Mr Lappeman told journalists that despite the country lacking a resettlement legal framework, the 570 displaced families would not go empty-handed as it had set aside an $11 million resettlement budget.
A conservation farming scheme in its livelihood and support programme on a one-hectare piece of land for all the displaced farmers is part of the budget and is one of KML's corporate social responsibility activities.
Some conservation farming project lead farmers talked to like Dorcas Kasongo, David Kijila and Alfred Kalota were getting better yields through the project and thus were grateful to FQM for the initiative.
KML has also engaged the most vulnerable people, especially women, in growing cassava whose objective is to ensure food security in homes.
Monetary compensation is also part of the resettlement package. In line with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock rates, KML will offer monetary compensation to the 1,400 farmers for their crops and the other amount for the labour used to clear land, besides allowing them to harvest their crops, but they will not be compensated for the land because it is traditional.
Besides the aforementioned budget, there is a further $13 million construction phase contributions, which include the Timber Recovery Project (saw mill).
On the Timber Recovery Project, Mr Lappeman said in an interview that $6 million was injected into the project currently employing 150 Zambians.
The Timber Recovery Project came into being two years ago to avoid the wastage of trees which are cut down to pave the way for the Trident Project.
"The project is purely sustainability-based to avoid burning a precious resource (trees) and rather try generating jobs and value from it for Zambians," Mr Lappeman said.
He said the Timber Recovery Project was currently running at a loss because it was not operating on a commercial basis, precisely because of the ban on timber exports and has a lifespan of five years, but it will be prolonged once the Enterprise and Intrepid mines are operational.
KML is also encouraging farmers to plant exotic and indigenous trees, with the initial target being 36 farmers last year and is increasing the number to 200 this year.
Other key projects under the KML Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) is the construction of a rural health centre (which is at 98 per cent completion rate) and staff accommodation, increasing church buildings by 50 per cent, and replacing old houses with new ones whose quality rate stands at 129 per cent.
Edith Kashinka, a beneficiary in the Southern Resettlement Area, ideal for farming because of its soil fertility, was grateful to KML for constructing her a better and bigger two-roomed house but complained that it was not spacious enough to accommodate all her household goods.
Before KML came on the scene, Ms Kashinka was living in a 10 square-metre mud and grass-thatched two-roomed house which the mine upgraded to 19m² with iron sheets and bricks.
The Northern Resettlement Area was the preference for the displaced families who wanted to engage in entrepreneurship.
The mine is building ventilated pit latrines for each household, providing wood-chip rocket stove to every household as well as improving access to water by reducing the distance from 1,000 to 500 metres through drilling of pulley wells and hand pumps.
KML has engaged the Zambia Forestry College to train bee-keepers on improved bee-keeping methods, besides partnering with the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) with funding from the European Union (EU) to provide bee-keeping equipment to enhance their production aimed at exporting to EU member states.
The mine will construct open-air markets in resettlement areas and in the proposed Kalumbila town to ensure displaced communities raise funds.
Livestock farmers have not been left out in that they have agreed to compensation offers, among them being replacement of livestock kraal fences suitable for communal grazing lands.
After engaging the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, KML has also agreed to a six-month livestock treatment programme for internal and external parasites.
The Trident Project has not spared Senior Chief Musele who is similarly benefitting from the KML RAP.
FQM is also collaborating with Zesco to construct a 600-kilometre power line worth more than $200 million from Lusaka West through Mumbwa to KML, then Lumwana and Kansanshi mines which will help in power stability on the Copperbelt as well as electrifying some rural households.
For the more than 2,000 Zambians KML has employed comprising 1,400 from North-Western Province (65 per cent of the displaced households have one or more relatives contributing to that number), the mine has plans of giving the province a facelift through the proposed Kalumbila town project.
The major highlight of this ambitious programme, which ZEMA and Solwezi Council have approved, is KML's blueprint to build 10,000 houses to be sold to its local workers at subsidised rates.
In the first phase currently underway, the mine is building 600 housing units. A police station, airport, clinic, trust school and a multi-facility economic zone (MFEZ) are among other major highlights of the town.
Despite the town being approved by ZEMA and Solwezi Council, the Government is yet to offer KML the land's title deed.
Mr Lappeman had this to say on the housing project: "On the affordable houses that are being constructed, the plan is that these are sold to our employees. So the idea there is for the employees to actually own the houses so that the town is sustainable after the life of the mine.
"If the mine held the ownership over those houses, on de-commissioning it will basically become a ghost suburb of town, which is not what we want."
Mr Pascall said statistics indicated that people who owned houses were more likely to educate their children or start businesses using such infrastructure as collateral to obtain loans from financial institutions.
"Home ownership is economic empowerment," he said.
Mr Pascall boasted that the Trident Project would turn North-Western Province into the 'new Copperbelt', adding that Sentinel Mine would put Zambia ahead in mining technology, thus competing favourably with countries like Chile and Peru, among others.
Despite such an attractive package, however, ZEMA has not yest approved KML's RAP!
Mr Lappeman said ZEMA's prolonged approval of KML's 2011 RAP would subsequently delay the commissioning of the mine's Sentinel plant scheduled for April 2014.
The delay will result in KML losing $5 million per day once the April deadline is not observed.
Mr Lappeman said there was need to resettle the Wanyinwa community within two weeks to avoid losing such revenue because the people were living in the mine's key operational area.
Mr Lappeman wondered why ZEMA had not approved KML's RAP since September 2011 and yet the First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML) subsidiary had exhausted all the necessary avenues that culminated into the document and subsequently availed it to the Agency two years ago.
Mr Lappeman further said that comparisons between KML's RAP and those of four other firms which ZEMA approved recently revealed that KML's resettlement package was by far much more attractive than the quartet.
"The most common community comment is to speed up the resettlement while we submitted the Resettlement Action Plan to ZEMA in September, 2011. It's almost two years later and they (ZEMA) still haven't approved it," Mr Lappeman said.
"We basically believe that a lot of what they are requesting has already been done, it's more of a communication breakdown issue which we will address in our letter to them."
There was need to have a stockpile of copper rich ore at the plant site before Sentinel Mine could be commissioned, but some people are residing in such key mining areas.
"If we don't have the approval to resettle the people I would say we wouldn't be able to start mining because the locations of the communities are in the path of critical mining infrastructure.
"If we don't resettle those people within the next two weeks, there could be potential project delays. This is how much pressure we are under and we believe our entitlements are significantly higher than other resettlement plans across the country," he said.
Mr Lappeman said ZEMA sent a deferral letter to KML management requesting, among other things, that the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) through its principal lands resettlement officer conducts more consultations with the affected community and the mining firm as the resettlement package was inadequate.
He said he was surprised that ZEMA deemed KML's RAP package as insufficient, besides requesting that the DMMU's principal lands resettlement officer conducts further consultations and yet he had been to the area several times to perform the same task.
Mr Lappeman, however, said it would comply with ZEMA's request apart from writing to the Agency soon over its concerns.
He also believed that such anomalies could have been avoided if Zambia had a Resettlement Policy which would set standards, provided a time frame for the consideration and approval of RAPs as well as clarified procedures.
Mr Pascall said of the delay to approve the RAP: "There is resettlement going on but it's voluntary. If resettlement doesn't happen there for those sections that you are talking about, the pipeline and the diversion channel, the net effect of the mining schedule is $5 million a day.
"That's the loss revenue per day and of that we would pay taxes to the Government of around 30 per cent."
Thirty-five out of 570 displaced families have so far volunteered to be relocated.