The decision by government to give Kitwe’s mineral rich ‘Black Mountain’ to a Chinese company has angered more than 2,000 Zambians who depend on it for their survival.
The affected people, mainly the youths, have since warned government that if it went ahead with its plans Kitwe will experience the type of crime levels never seen before.
And government has deployed more than 300 police officers to keep all illegal miners at bay before it finally gave the slug to a Chinese firm.
The development was confirmed by Small Scale Mining Association of Zambia (SSMAZ) president Simon Njovu who said for the past two months more than 2,000 young and old Zambians had been scavenging the black mountain to get different types of minerals especially copper and cobalt for their survival.
Mr Njovu accused government of favouring foreigner investors and wondered what would become of the 2,00o plus scavengers if the slug was given to a Chinese company.
“We have suffered enough and we will not allow the black mountain to be in foreign hands anymore. “Right now as we speak the black mountain is surrounded with more than 300 police officers.
“We have no employment our only source for income is from the black mountain. We are ready for dialogue,” Mr Njovu said.
“Illegal miners are humans with families and children. Look at South Africa, Zimbabwe, and DR Congo; they are making progress because they are empowering the locals by allowing them to participate in mining.
“All our minerals and natural resources are in foreign hands. We are arrested, intimated, beaten, harassed and jailed for our minerals. Your Excellency is this what it means for Zambia at 50?” Mr Njovu questioned.
“It surprises me even after 50years of independence minerals are in foreign hands when we can handle these ourselves. The mineral resources development policy encourages Zambians to be part of mining and mine owners and learn about value addition,” he said.
Mr Njovu said government has from 2012 promised to give illegal miners licences up but to now nothing had happened.
He complained that mining still remained the economic backbone of Zambia and that there was need for an overhaul in the ministry of