First Lady counsels Kalumbila settlers

FIRST Lady Esther Lungu has advised resettled residents to exercise patience in airing their grievances pertaining to their livelihood in Kalumbila district where First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has set up a world-class mining company.

Ms Lungu said during her tour of Kalumbila Minerals Limited and the surrounding areas that it was important that the local residents exercised restraint in airing their grievances following their incessant complaints to her when she visited them.

The residents complained of drawing water from the boreholes sunk by FQM, which they claimed had impurities and were worried that they may contract diseases by drawing drinking dirty water.

Ms Lungu however advised the residents to follow procedure in complaining and said the mining company would endeavour to attend to them. They also complained that they had been displaced and did not have alternative farming area.

She said communities had the right to raise complaints but advised them to engage the mining company so that a solution could be found to the issues they raised.

Ms Lungu was quick to urge the residents to safeguard and treat the investment in the area with jealousy as Kalumbila Minerals Limited was doing well for the communities and the country in terms of job creation and corporate social responsibility.

The first lady who had earlier held in a meeting with Kalumbila Minerals Limited management in the boardroom where the mine’s general manager Damien Marantelli briefed her on various activities at the giant mining company, said she was overwhelmed with the developments in the area.

Ms Lungu said Kalumbila Minerals Limited was doing good for the communities and the country at large and it was in that vein that local residents should always engage the mine and other stakeholders in ensuring that there was a win-win situation.

“Kalumbila Mine is doing good. The mining company is making a difference to the locals here and the country at large. In that vein, you should make sure that you restrain yourselves as you complain so that a solution is found.

I have heard your complaints, some of which I will deliver to the president while the provincial minister will also handle others,” Ms Lungu said.

She added that it was practically impossible to have all complaints resolved at once and that it may take some time for some solutions to be found.

Ms Lungu further said, going by what she had seen in Kalumbila, she was convinced that the local people had better living standards than some of the areas she had been to, and that Kalumbila Mine should be commended for their commitment to raising the standards of the residents in the area.

“I have been to more than six provinces so far, and the kind of life people lead in some areas cannot be compared to the way you are living here. We must therefore commend Kalumbila Mine for the good job they are doing,” Ms Lungu said.

Trident Foundation Community Relations Coordinator Alex Mapapayi said the mining company had earlier taken samples to the laboratory and the results did not indicate that the water contained impurities that could lead to diseases.

He however said they would investigate issues pertaining to water as raised by the local residents.

The first lady was accompanied to the tour of Kalumbila by North Western Province minister Dawson Kafwaya, provincial permanent secretary Amos Malupenga, FQM country manager Kingsley Chinkuli, North Western Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Josephine Makondo, senior chief Musele and chief Mumena. – Story courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.