In a devastating incident, around thirty illegal miners are feared trapped in a mudslide at an open-cast copper mine in the Chingola region of Zambia. The catastrophe was triggered by heavy rains, leading to a torrent of mud that engulfed the mining site, situated approximately 400 kilometres north of the capital, Lusaka.
The Minister of the Interior in Zambia confirmed the grim situation, disclosing that the miners had been missing for two days. Despite concerted efforts by emergency services, the search and rescue teams have been unable to locate any of the trapped individuals. The mudslide occurred at 2 a.m. on Friday, with relief operations continuing day and night.
Zambian Vice President Mutale Nalumango characterised the event as a “catastrophe” and expressed the government’s commitment to ongoing search efforts. The search operation is focused on three specific locations within the artisanal mining site, where illegal miners typically extract copper from the earth.
The exact details surrounding the mudslide remain unclear, and the fate of the miners remains unknown. The police have released the names of seven missing miners, acknowledging that the list is not exhaustive.
Zambia, renowned as one of the world’s major copper producers, has a significant mining presence in the Chingola region. The area houses one of the largest open-cast copper mines globally, with some mine waste hills reaching heights of around a hundred metres.
As the nation grapples with this tragedy, questions about the safety of artisanal mining operations and the impact of severe weather conditions on these activities come to the forefront. The incident underscores the challenges associated with illegal mining practices and the vulnerabilities faced by those engaged in such activities, necessitating a thorough examination of safety protocols and regulatory measures in the mining sector.