ILLEGAL miners have destroyed equipment worth K500 million at Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) Nchanga South Open pit in Chingola.
KCM production manager Oswald Mulenga and public relations manager Joy Sata said more than 80 illegal miners were found at the open pit on Monday afternoon and one of them was arrested.
Mr Mulenga said the illegal miners went into the open pit mine to steal copper ore but they were caught by mine and Zambia police officers.
The illegal miners who were armed with machetes and bars outnumbered the officers, started throwing stones and in the process destroyed equipment at the mine.
Mr Mulenga said the illegal miners started throwing stones at the slop stability radar and destroyed the equipment which monitors the activities around the mine premises.
"The slop stability radar is used to monitor movements around the pit and the illegal miners knew that we would not be able to see their movements and that's why they were aiming at destroying it.
"Apart from destroying the cameras on the slop stability radar they also removed the alternator and some cables from the machine so that we could lose track of them," he said.
Mr Mulenga said the illegal miners further damaged windows of a driller and a Land Cruiser at the mine.
"The driller was just recently acquired at a total cost of US$1.2 million and it will cost us a lot to have it fixed, for the time being we have hired a driller from Zambezi Drillers for which we are going to pay K3,500 monthly," he said.
He said the mine had also lost about 60 tonnes of copper ore during the confusion with the illegal miners.
Ms Sata appealed to all stakeholders, including Government and various civil society organisations, to help solve the issue of illegal mining as it was getting out of hand.
She said the issue of illegal mining did not only affect production at KCM but the whole country because most of the revenue was going to waste.
Chingola District Commissioner George Sichula said illegal mining activities had increased not only at KCM but in most mines, and that the Government should intervene and help find solutions.
Mr Sichula said when he toured the open pit mine that various stakeholders should be involved when coming up with plans on how to end illegal activities.