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“I have never benefited anything from Mopani Mine and I have never liked anything from them.” - Margaret

Margaret Chisanga is a 40 year old woman who has spent her life since birth in Kankoyo. Married with three children, she is a housewife and political leader in Langashi Ward in Konkoyo. Her husband is unemployed and therefore relies on various informal businesses to raise income for the household including selling of merchandise. Margaret lives in a cracked house located within 100m from the Mopani mine plant.

 

“Since the new mine investor took over the Mopani Copper Mine, as an ordinary woman in Kankoyo, I have never benefited from it in any way unless women who work in the mine. As women we are not engaged with the mine investor in a more pro-active way unless we follow the mine management to lodge a complaint. There are no deliberate programmes or mechanism to engage us. Despite having many challenges such as poor water the mine does not help us in any way. The mine says it is only concerned with the mine operations and has nothing to do with the housing and other public infrastructure in the community.

 

"Our house being within 100m from the mine plant, we have suffered a lot of disturbances ranging from frequent noise from rock blasting; air pollution from sulphur-dioxide emissions; spillage from the acid pipes; cracking of the walls of our house; to destruction of the aesthetic value of our surroundings following damage to our flowers and surrounding vegetation including corroding the roof top to our house. I have a 15-year child who always scratches his eyes continuously due to irritation once sulphur-dioxide is released from the mine. Since we are used to his situation we don’t do anything whenever this happens.

"Two years ago when I was coming from the market area around 11:00 carrying a four month old baby boy when I reached near the mine area I experienced a heavy release of sulphur-dioxide which polluted the whole area. This affected my child who started coughing uncontrollably and had difficulties in breathing. This forced me to take my child to Ronald Rose Hospital located nearby. The Doctor quickly examined my child and recommended putting him on oxygen as his condition was acute. My child was on oxygen until 01:00AM when we were told his condition had worsened. He ended up dying in the hospital. This has been a very devastating experience. Us who do not have money can do anything to seek legal redress on the injustices caused by the mine.

"The frequent air pollution we have been experiencing in Kankoyo has not changed in any way despite the mine having installed a new acid plant, which exploded in August last year (2014) when it was scheduled for commissioning. This was yet another disturbing experience we had as a community. When the acid plant exploded it caused a lot of disturbing noise and released toxic gases into the atmosphere. Our children were very disturbed and feared that they would die from the massive explosion and pollution. Following this, the young ones mobilized themselves and started throwing stones to the mine plant.  This prompted other community members to join resulting in a riot. The police refused to grant a peaceful demonstration due to political interference in the matter. The explosions have continued to occur. Even two weeks ago we experienced a minor explosion but because of rains the disturbance caused was not much. We feel the problems caused by the mine will never end. As the community we are resolved to relocate from Kankoyo provided government can help secure alternative land for us and support our resettlement.