FQM rubbishes claims of water pollution in Solwezi

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First Quantum Minerals has reaffirmed its commitment to continue monitoring and protecting water sources, while investing in safe, secure and sustainable water supplies for communities surrounding its Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi, North-Western Province.

The mining firm is of the belief that access to safe, clean water is number one priority for community development, and that water is the most basic human need, and should always be prioritised over other forms of development work where needs are not being met.

Contrary to the widely discredited report by an NGO called Southern Africa Resource Watch – which erroneously claims that the hand-pump wells or boreholes donated to the community by FQM are heavily contaminated because of the mine’s tailings dam, and that the mining has also dammed water from Kansanshi stream, and replaced the river with polluted boreholes – the company subscribes to the Equator Principles and has met ISO 14001 Standards, which are the international standards that specify requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS).

That ISO 14001 Standards provide a framework that an organisation can follow, rather than establishing environmental performance requirements.

“In 2018 alone, the company spent at total of US$4,794,745 on sustainability programmes, among which was the establishment of a pioneering water recycling system using cutting-edge technology to prevent effluent from getting into external water bodies,” said FQM’s Kansanshi Mine environmental manager Arnold Malambo.

The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) recently confirmed it conducted regular random inspections of Kansanshi mine’s water handling system, and the results show no evidence of pollution from the mine in the area’s surface water, which is the water in Kifubwa and Solwezi River as well as Mutanda stream.

And the company is of the firm belief that effective environmental management is a corporate priority, and its efforts in conservation are aimed at leaving a positive legacy, knowing it has a duty of care.

“The company recognises the vital role water plays in its mining operations and its importance to well-being in nearby communities, hence we have effective environmental management as a corporate priority, and establish policies, programmes and practices to achieve this,” he said.

Malambo further explained that the mining firm has over the years developed and designed facilities, which it operates in an environmentally sound manner, preserving the local bio-diversity, while protecting the water resources through efficient use of energy and other resource materials.

The company’s overall environmental objectives include the commitment of the board and management to pollution prevention; compliance with all applicable environmental laws and continual improvement to protect the environment.
For this reason FQM has aligned its sustainability programmes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, whose overall objective is to improve the quality of life for its employees, their families and their immediate communities.

Goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all – an aim that encompasses the company’s conservation farming projects, provision of community boreholes, school ablution blocks and community sensitisations by the health teams.

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