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Copper producer plants bio-diesel trees on tailings dumpsite

…trees will revegetate a disused dump site, improve soil fertility and produce bio-diesel

Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has launched an ambitious bio diesel project in the Copperbelt at one of the company’s disused dump site.

According to the company, the project aims to cultivate elite Pongamia Pinnata trees for bio-diesel production at a mining waste site of 650 hectares of land, where 400,000 trees are to be planted at an estimated cost of US$7 million.

In addition, create 500 jobs in agro-forestry, farming, bio-energy processing and energy service delivery.

Matthew Nkhuwa, Minister of Works and Supply said the project has potential to significantly reduce the country’s energy expenditure.

“Government is spending huge amounts of money to import fuel into the country every month.

With projects such as this, the burden on the government will be lighter and resources may be channeled to other areas for holistic development,” Nkhuwa said.

The country’s forecast for energy is expected to increase, as the economy anticipates growth from multiple sectors.

Steven Din, KCM Chief Executive Officer said the project attested to his company’s commitment to invest in clean energy and best-in-breed environmental practices, as part of KCM vision for sustainable development.

“The trees we have planted here will revegetate a disused dump site, suck-up impurities and fix back nitrogen to the soil, improving its fertility.

In addition to all this, employment will be created for the local people,’’ Din said.

KCM is working in partnership with Better World Energy to deliver the project, which is designed to fertilise the bare land which KCM currently cannot use for agriculture purposes.

In addition, the project will provide a cheap and environmental-friendly source of energy through Pongamia trees for KCM.

Pongamia is an ideal plant for recovering a variety of waste burdens such as saline soil reclamation. Pongamia brings soils back to life as the nitrogen and carbon feed rich soil microbial communities enabling other plants to grow on previously dead soil.

Also virtually every part of the Pongamia tree can be used for productive ends – biodiesel for energy, while the seedcake can be used to make briquettes for cooking and cattle feed (after removing toxins), while the slurry can be used as a fertilizer; and because the tree is naturally repulsive to animals, bio-pesticides can be made from it.

KCM is the country’s largest integrated copper producer with mining operations in Chingola, Chililabombwe, Kitwe and Nampundwe.

KCM is a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources plc a London-listed diversified global natural resources company and the state-owned ZCCM-IH alsoholds a signi¬ficant shareholding (20.6%) in KCM.

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