In August last year, First Quantum Mineral (FQM) announced the suspension of the community water project in Kalumbila District after several complaints from residents on the flooded Musangezhi dam.
Flooding of the Dam led to an uproar from residents, especially that it affected a nearby graveyard which they described as a taboo.
The residents raised concerns that the situation had further led to the contamination of water in the area as mining activities were also too close, a move that left FQM with no option but to abandon the water project.
However, after several engagements with Chief Musele and Kalumbila Minerals Ltd General Manager Morris Rowe, the matter has been put to rest.
This followed a statement from the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection on the results of investigations by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and the Department of Water Resources Development into the quality of water in boreholes around Musele Chiefdom.
And Senior Chief Musele of the Lunda speaking people in Kalumbila in North Western Province has since reassured his subjects that ground water in his chiefdom is safe to drink after government tests confirmed it was not polluted by the Sentinel Mine in Kalumbila.
This will result in FQM resuming the community water project put on hold last year following attempts by community leaders to blame the mine for natural occurrences that affected the quality of water.
“It wasn’t our intention to blame the mine or to blame anyone. We wanted assistance from anyone. That’s why I decided to come and meet the general manager so that we know the way forward to rebuild our relationship,” chief Musele stated.
And Rowe has confirmed that on the basis of the Chief’s agreement to publicly support the foundation’s efforts, work would now resume on the stalled water project.
“It has been our commitment from the beginning that we have a good relationship with the community and I am pleased we have set the record straight. We will gladly help on humanitarian grounds. We are part of your community and we will always do our best to continue with our relationship,” he said.
Provincial Minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu said: “On behalf of Government, I wish to sincerely thank both parties that have been involved in this process of discussions.”