MINERS should refuse to work in unsafe areas because working in such conditions may result in accidents that may claim their lives, Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma has said
Speaking at the burial of the four miners who died in a mine accident at South Ore Body (SOB) shaft of Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) in Kitwe after the earth collapsed on them, on July 19, 2015, Mr Yaluma said miners had a right to refuse to work in unsafe places that may result in fatal accidents.
He said no one would fire miners for refusing to work in unsafe areas of the mine.
The four miners, Emmanuel Kyongola, Honest Mushota, Arnold Mambwe and Abel Munthali were buried yesterday at Nkana East cemetery without body viewing after two weeks of searching for their bodies at SOB shaft where the accident occurred.
The requiem mass for the four miners took place at Nkana Stadium before they were buried at Nkana East cemetery where people from all walks of life joined the bereaved families in mourning their departed relatives.
Among the people who attended the burial were Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge, Kitwe district commissioner (DC) Chanda Kabwe and other Government officials.
Mr Yaluma said the death of the four miners was not only a loss to their families, but also a loss to the nation because they died on duty while contributing to national development.
“This is a tragic loss not only to the families, but also to the nation because they died on duty while contributing to national development, as you know mining is major foreign exchange earner for this country.
“I would advise miners not to rush and work in unsafe places. You are entitled to refuse to work in unsafe places until that place is deemed safe by the employers. No one would fire you for refusing to work in unsafe place,” he said.
Mr Yaluma said Government had discussed with MCM and requested that the mine should employ a relative or a family member of each of the four bereaved families and the mining company had accepted.
“I concur with what the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Nkole Chishimba said that MCM should employee a member of each of the four bereaved families and the mining company accepted. When death strikes, especially the breadwinner, life becomes very unbearable to the bereaved family,” he said.
Earlier, MCM chief executive officer Johan Jansen said the mining company was deeply hurt at the loss of the four miners and would work hard to improve safety in its operations.
“These four miners meant something to each of us. The entire MCM family is devastated by the death of these four miners and it will be difficult to heal this wound. MCM is working hard to ensure safety is improved. We will not relent to achieve fatal free working environment,” Mr Jansen said.
And Mr Chishimba implored MCM and Government to investigate what happened on that fateful day which led to the cause of the accident which claimed the lives of the four miners.
“It is with a heavy heart and deep sorrow that I stand here to mourn our departed fellow miners who died in a tragic mine accident. I would like to implore MCM and Government to investigate what happened on that fateful day,” he said.