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Kalumbila mine clashes: Police arrest, charge 18

BUTTYSON KANDIMBA, Solwezi
POLICE in Solwezi have arrested 18 people and charged them with conduct likely to cause a breach of peace following riots that erupted in Kisasa area about 20kms from Kalumbila mine on Wednesday last week.
North-Western Province commissioner of police Grace Chipalila said in an interview in Solwezi yesterday that the violence started after some job-seeking youths blocked the road and disturbed the flow of traffic because most people who were registering for the mine’s data base were allegedly not locals.
“We received a report of violence in which some unruly job-seekers were on the road burning tyres and disturbing the flow of traffic.  Police who rushed to the area managed to apprehend 18 of the suspects,” Ms Chipalila said.
She said the exercise was immediately suspended after the incidence, adding that the situation was brought under control and that the area is now calm.
Ms Chipalila said all the 18 suspects admitted the charge and paid admission of guilty fee and have since been released.
The police chief also dismissed online reports that two people died during the fracas.
Meanwhile, First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has expressed concern that some people have turned against their own “kith and kin” over mine job opportunities in North-western Province, KELVIN CHONGO, reports.
Public relations coordinator at Kalumbila Trident Mines – a subsidiary of FQM – Miriam Harmon, said the company has been compelled to suspend all worker recruitment programmes until further notice.
The mine management has been forced to suspend employing indefinitely following clashes between job-seekers who hail from North-western Province and those who migrated from Copperbelt Province.
“It is unfortunate that people from this province don’t want the mine to employ miners from other parts of the country,” she said.
She said it must be noted that FQM is an equal opportunity employer which does not recruit workers on tribal or regional lines.
Last week, there was confusion at Kalumbila when locals clashed with job-seekers from Copperbelt over mine jobs in North-western Province, claiming that Kalumbila copper mine should employ only people from Norther-western province.
And Kalumbila Trident Mine officials have praised President Lungu over his directive to review the mining tax regime, saying the decision will bring positive economic growth.
Mrs Harmon said President Lungu’s decision to review the tax regime has excited and motivated stakeholders in the mining industry.
“From inception President Lungu has been committed to working with all stakeholders to put in place a tax system that will benefit both the mine-owners and government,” Mrs Harmon said.
She said this is a welcome move, allaying fears of miners losing jobs if the Government maintained the current tax system.
“As Kalumbila mine, we knew that the Zambian Government will find a way to work out the mineral royalty tax,” she said.

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