First Quantum Minerals (FQM) recently handed over 13 houses to resettled families in the latest phase of its industry-leading project to leave a positive legacy at its former Bwana Mkubwa mine in Ndola.
The mining firm has also donated 10 hectares of land to the Zambian Aged People’s Association (ZAPA).
This follows the donation of land to 338 of its employees, the Ex-Service League, the Lamba Royal Establishment, the community, and the government in July of this year.
The mining firm believes that developing sustainable, long-term plans that go beyond the life of the mining project is crucial. FQML is cognisant of the legacy it leaves behind and works towards having a positive impact on the community after mining operations cease.
Speaking at the handover of the houses and land at Munkulungwe, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Elijah Julaki Muchima commended the mining firm’s donation.
He said it set the company apart from its competitors and would significantly contribute to alleviating the pressing housing and land challenges in the Ndola.
“My government is happy with the level and depth of consultation with the families here, which enabled the company to build for each family a property of their own choice. My appeal to you, the beneficiaries, is that you look after this property, which has significantly uplifted your living standards,” said Muchima.
The Minister called on other mining companies to emulate First Quantum in empowering local communities. He commended the company for being a responsible investor and operator.
“Indeed, FQM, you have been very responsible, an extremely responsible operator. Others just run away. And others are selling the land they’ve got for mining operations. But you have demonstrated that you came in to do the mining; mining operations are over, and you want to give back what belongs to Caesar; what belongs to Zambians. You have demonstrated it; you have not looked at the tribe, you have looked at the Zambian. This is commendable, highly commendable,” he continued.
Speaking at the same event, Copperbelt Province Minister Elisha Matambo commended the mining firm for its corporate social investment initiative to improve the livelihoods of local communities.
“This is the first time we are seeing this happening on the Copperbelt Province. Where the company took those who were affected and built them houses. This is what companies are supposed to do to their people. This is showing appreciation of whatever First Quantum got from this land. So, my challenge is to all those companies operating on the Copperbelt Province, to emulate what First Quantum has done,” he said.
And FQM’s Corporate Social Responsibility Superintendent Michael Longhurst explained that in preparation for the project implementation, beneficiaries underwent financial literacy, conservation farming, and managing change training to assist with the transition.
He added that for the past two years, First Quantum has been providing free farming inputs to assist families with food security and livelihood support.
“A few years ago, after extensive consultations, First Quantum Minerals, together with the farmers of Munkulungwe, the Zambian Environmental Management Agency, and the Ministry of Lands, agreed to implement a voluntary resettlement process from the Munkulungwe area to this area of Bwana Mkubwa, where farmers receive land matching old farm hectarage with new farm hectarage on title in the name of the beneficiary securing tenure for years to come.
On this titled replacement land, First Quantum Minerals has constructed 13 permanent primary homes, some 3 bedrooms with bathroom, others 2 bedrooms with bathroom, all decided on by each beneficiary to accommodate family dynamics. All houses are connected to electricity and individual boreholes for a fully functioning water-reticulating household, significantly improving the quality of life for the community,” he continued.
Longhurst said the company was committed to delivering on its commitments to communities wherever it operates and to an acceptable standard.
Despite its primary focus on mining operations, First Quantum Minerals recognises the importance for mining companies to consider the social and environmental consequences of their activities and actively contribute to uplifting local communities.