Environmental effects of mining on local communities in Kitwe and Mufulira in Copper belt province, Zambia

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Kampala international University college of humanities and social science
With the focus of the mining companies remaining on profit making, environmental pollution on the surrounding communities is what has characterized mining in Zambia. It is for this reason that study aimed at determining the environmental effects of mining on local communities in the Copperbelt province of Zambia. The study was guided by three objectives which were translated into three research questions; examine the methods of mining, establish the environmental effects of mining on local communities and design a model for the mitigation of environmental effects of mining on local communities in Kitwe and Mufulira. The study used a case study design by incorporating mining sites (quadrants). The assessment was made using primary data collected from a sample of 96\ key informants and 5 mining sites of 2Km2 from where samples of soil, water and vegetation where collected. Furthermore vegetation analysis was done basing on the 5 mining sites. The chemical species tested, took into consideration the analysis of Copper, Cobalt, Lead, Sulpher dioxide, dust, Total Dissolved Solids and Total Suspended Solids for air, soil and water pollution. The analysis was done using frequency distributions, trend surface analysis using Geographic Information Systems and laboratory tests of all chemical species was done and concentrations were compared with World Health Organization and Zambia Environmental Management Agency limits for air, soil and water. The results showed that the concentration of the elements (Pollutants) in soil and air were above the limit and water elements were below the World Health Organization and Zambia Environmental Management Agency limits. Furthermore, results reveal that the current mining methods practiced in Kitwe and Mufulira mining towns is underground and, surface mining, which are yet to pose a serious risk and change to the natural resources in the mining areas /communities since there is continual clearance of forest cover, erosion, formation of sinkholes and contamination of the environment by chemicals from mining processes and products. With regards to the effects of mining environmentally, the finding reveal that the effects are localized and that at local level, the uncontrolled digging and abandoning of pits has caused destruction of land beyond economic and technical reclamation. Generally, mining contributes to environmental degradation, displacement of settlements. The finding further reveals that more needs to be done by responsible agencies and the state in order to curb environmental degradation and other problems that arise from mining activities. To this end, targeted interventions such as sensitization of the general public and formation of new environmental laws and policies that will promote sustainability of the environment are recommended. The study recommends the government should enact a legislative instrument that gives local communities adequate legal backing to fully participate in environmental decisions, management and protection that affect their lives and development.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the degree of master of arts in geography of Kampala International university
Mining, Local communities, Copper belt province, Zambia