The planned commissioning of the US$2 billion Trident Kalumbila mine in Solwezi planned for next year may probably be delayed after the developers discovered over 300 graves during the construction of the Greenfield project.
Kalumbila mine project is a unit of First Quantum Minerals Limited who are also owners of Kansanshi Copper Mines. In its quest to develop the mine, which when completed and commissioned, will employ over 2,000 people, is pondering over unforeseen developments after it discovered 360 identified graves in its perimeter.
The 360 graves identified are lying within the mining surface rights in which the deceased will need to be exhumed and reburied in the existing burial sites within senior chief Musele’s chiefdom.
This development arises after the Zambia Environmental Management Agency approved the construction of the mine but had sought that the developers consider compensation to the families of the deceased.
Kalumbila Minerals Limited Spokesperson Miriam Harmon, in a statement said while the mine project needs to be completed on schedule, the company is awaiting Government to approve the relocation of 38 graves to pave way for mining operations at the US$2billion First Quantum Minerals (FQM) Sentinel Mine project in Solwezi district.
According to Harmon, government has not granted the mining conglomerate authority to proceed to exhume and relocate graves found on the mine area. Nearly 500 graves were discovered on the mine area and after verifications 38 graves require exhumation, 181 need cover-over and the remaining 355 graves are not affected even though they are located within the mine area.
The unaffected graves will be fenced off and measures will be put in place to allow affected family members access to the graves. The government is yet to issue a permit as required by the Public Health Act to exhume or cover –over graves.
However, owing to the company’s compassionate considerations, it has resolved to compensate the families with, K6, 000 for each grave relocated. The company will further meet exhumation, reburial, transport and other logistical costs including traditional blankets, coffins and tombstones.
The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) earlier approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with emphasis for a humane and compassionate settlement of graves affected by the developmental activities at the Sentinel mine.
Meanwhile Musele Ward Councilor in Solwezi, Olix Kakwata, says the mine will pay K6, 000 to the next of kin of the affected families for each grave that will be exhumed, he is cited as saying to Zambia News and Information Service (ZANIS).
According o Kakwata 200 old graves out of the 360 identified graves that are lying within the mining surface rights will need to be exhumed and reburied in the existing burial sites within Senior Chief Musele’s chiefdom. The rest of the graves will be fenced and lay tombstones on them.
The compassionate fee is meant to cushion the costs that the families will incur to rebury the remains of their ancestors following the relocation of villages in the area to pave way for mining operations.