First Quantum Mineral has through its subsidiary Kalumbila Mine Limited signed a forestry protection and conservation Memorandum of Understanding with the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for the protection and managing of Bushingwe National Forest and Lualaba National Forest which share boundaries with the mine.
“The MoU is coming at a critical time when the increased population and activities around Kalumbila mine has created demand for land settlements and agriculture as well as various forest products. This has resulted in encroachment into the forest reserves which was not there in the past,” said Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Permanent Secretary Trevor Kaunda.
Speaking at singing of the MoU yesterday, Kaunda explained that the MoU will among other things facilitate the development and implementation of management plans for the forests around Kalumbila fostering partnerships between government and the private sector.
“Forest resources are currently under immense pressure due to various activities especially the forests that are close to urban areas and areas with high population densities,” noted the Permanent Secretary.
And FQM Country Manager General Kingsley Chinkuli said effective environmental management is the mining firm’s corporate priority and all the efforts in conservation are aimed at leaving a positive legacy, knowing that it has a duty to care.
“The MoU we are signing today is another conservation platform aligned with forestry protection. Because mining attracts significant influx of the people and results into diverse economic activities, both wood and non-wood forest resources near a mine area become vulnerable. Without being proactive, such resources may diminish so fast that recovery or regeneration becomes impossible,” said General Chinkuli.
“It is through cooperation such as this one that encourages the corporate world to adopt and support conservation initiatives as well as take responsibility for environmental protection.”
The agreement follows an MoU was signed between the mine and the Zambia Wildlife Authority (now the Department of National Parks and Wildlife) on October 28, 2014 aimed at protection of the West Lunga Game Management Area, which has a footprint of 11, 754km².
Results recorded so far due to the MoU with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife include a significant reduction in poaching activities; the number of wildlife has now started increasing, conservation awareness has increased and the number of snares has reduced.
A mine’s obligation to preserve biodiversity does not end at the concession fence. In addition to its area of direct environmental impact, there is the broader ecosystem to consider, along with aspects of sustainability that may extend across an entire region. As well, conservation efforts extend over time, addressing challenges that often predate development and will require attention well beyond the mine’s lifespan. This is the far-reaching perspective First Quantum brings to the Kalumbila mine in Zambia, said General Chinkuli.