Nestled in the heart of the Gwembe Valley, Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL) is spread over an expanse of over 8,000 hectares that, at first glance, looks like just another coal mine with an integrated mine-mouth thermal power plant – abuzz with the industrial hubbub of complex engineering and heavy earth-moving machinery.
But this industrial giant, unique in Zambia in that its operations cover mining and generation of baseload power for the nation, is undertaking numerous activities beyond its operational mandate.
For more than a decade since privatisation in 2010 and commencing supplying power to the national grid six years ago in August 2016, MCL has consistently displayed a strong and sustained commitment to uplifting the lives of the people of the community that hosts its operations. The company’s corporate social investment contract is extremely active and focussed on four pillars: Education, Health, Infrastructure and Sport.
Through the Maamba Development Trust, MCL runs numerous initiatives to ensure social and economic development for the community in Maamba as well as the surrounding areas of Sinazongwe, including the more remote areas around Lake Kariba.
MCL has supported quality primary and secondary school education since 1974 through Maamba Private School. Hailed by former pupils and teachers alike as the best school in Sinazongwe District, Maamba Private currently offers schooling to over 700 students.
The company-sponsored institution – which today boasts modern infrastructure, including well stocked library, fully functional IT facilities and well-equipped science laboratories – has long been the school of choice for the children of the community.
By hosting local art and essay writing competitions as well as organising student-led initiatives like tree-planting drives and town clean-up exercises, Maamba Private School provides an opportunity for pupils to participate in extra-curricular activities and ensure all-round development, to better their lives today and in the future, and help the children grow into responsible young citizens.
The Maamba Development Trust also runs a Skills Training Centre. Here, men and women as well as local youth from the community are primed to turn knowledge and talent into career-developing opportunities and livelihood sustaining ventures.
Through a variety of courses, MCL enables locals to explore the many avenues through which they can sustain and improve their livelihoods and the livelihoods of their families.
According to Operation Eyesight Universal, an international development organisation working to prevent blindness and restore sight, 90% of vision loss is preventable or treatable. However, people in low- and middle-income countries or in remote inaccessible regions often have no access to facilities that are able to give this sight-restoring care.
To address this problem in Sinazongwe, MCL has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Operation Eyesight to build and set up a state-of-the-art eye-care centre at Maamba General Hospital in a bid to help the people of the community. The eye centre has a modern and fully equipped operation theatre that is poised to be the best eye care facility in Southern Province.
With the help of highly trained staff, blindness caused by common eye ailments such as trachoma and cataracts are a thing of the past for patients in Sinazongwe District and its surrounding areas. Notably, MCL sponsors in 2012 had donated US$500,000 for helping construction of the Eye Clinic at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.
The company’s medical support goes beyond eye care. Through MDT, MCL also conducts periodic medical outreach programmes to bring healthcare to people who live in far-flung regions of the province and has built a clinic near remote Lake Kariba, which is manned by medical personnel from the Ministry of Health and provides medical facilities to some 8000 members of the communities around the lake, people who otherwise had to travel long distances to Maamba General Hospital to access healthcare.
MCL’s continuing partnership with Maamba General Hospital has ensured that distance and finance are no longer obstacles to receiving quality medical attention and specialised care for the men, women, and children in its locality. Meanwhile, during the COVID pandemic – the company donated a ventilator to the Ministry of Health and assisted District Health Authorities in setting up the COVID centre at Sinazongwe and procuring materials as well critically required oxygen cylinders.
For four decades, the roads of Maamba lay in a state of disrepair or dilapidation. MCL took the initiative to reconstruct the township roads by buying road building equipment and revamped the roads in-house, ensuring a sustainable solution for future maintenance.
The improved transport network makes Maamba and its neighbouring townships more accessible, easing business and movement for locals.
Meanwhile, the company has built and maintains bridges, drainage and even dams for helping nearby villagers maintain their livestock.
It is a well-known fact that sport is a great unifier. Able to transcend socio-economic barriers, status, religion and race – sport is an age-old way for people to inculcate better habits, live healthier lives, drive societal change, and bring about a deeper sense of association.
To promote this, Maamba Development Trust sponsors the Maamba Energy Stars Football Club, while providing funds for running golf, badminton, squash and tennis clubs, for use by employees and members of the community.
In partnership with the Ministry of Education, the trust also sponsors major tournaments at the school, district and provincial levels.
Even as the mine and plant operations remain compliant and are monitored for environmental emissions and practices by ZEMA and the World Bank, MCL runs a ‘Green Maamba’ campaign to ensure its operational areas and the township remain pristine and green. To achieve this the company has set up a fully functional nursery that maintains indigenous flowering and fruit bearing trees, and with the community has set a target of planting 7,000 trees every year.
In keeping with the company vision and mission, Maamba Collieries is determined to ensure upliftment of the lives of the people of Sinazongwe and create long-term opportunities continue.
In partnership with the government and other stakeholders, MCL remains committed to help develop the men and women within its host community.