The safety record at KCM is upside-down

This article by Buntungwa Ward Councillor, Soko Mumba, details attempts by Vedanta’s Zambian subsidiary KCM to cover up circumstances surrounding the death of a worker earlier this year. It is not clear if Mr Mwape’s tragic death is counted as one of the nine fatalities recorded in Vedanta’s 2018 Annual Report, which make a mockery of their ‘zero harm’ policy. Adding insult to injury, Vedanta CEO Kuldip Kaura’s statement in the report:

“Our training programmes have focused on getting our employees make better risk decisions so that they can start to identify those behaviours that result in injuries and fatalities.”

..appears to put the blame for fatal accidents on the employees themselves, rather than taking responsibility for the poor health and safety record which is well documented in Foil Vedanta’s recent report, Vedanta’s Billions.

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Every mining undertaking has its risks but such risks can be avoided if a company operates within the confines of the Mining and Safety Regulations, which are there to promote both human life and mining business. You can not talk of a successful business without safety and you can’t of course talk about successful safety without human life.

It takes serious investment to implement the mining and Safety Regulations if a mining company is to have Zero fatalities as Vedanta claims. If there is no serious investment in both human and business capital, the chances of having fatalities are very high.

This is the case at Vedanta’s Zambian subsidiary KCM, which has been operating without capital injection into the business and human capital. This has resulted in the company cutting down costs to maximise profits by bypassing certain safety procedures in the quest to meet the growing demand for copper.

In most cases the mine is now mining or scavenging for copper in old mined areas without employing serious safety measures. In short the implementation of mining and safety regulations at KCM is upside down. To the Indians at KCM, business comes first and must be promoted, while human life is second priority. There are so many accidents that have been recorded at KCM, but most of them have gone unreported because the company wants business to continue.

Worse, KCM has now resorted to telling lies with impunity when it comes to reporting accidents either the public or relevant authority. The most recent example involves Enock Mwape, where Kcm claimed that he blasted himself at Nchanga Underground. KCM has twisted facts to conceal an error committed by itself, just for the sake of business continuity. KCM has lied that Enock Mwape of Chikola Loop, who was on night shift duty on 16 June, 2018 blasted himself, and that he was a KCM employee.

The truth is that the innocent man was not a KCM employee but an employee of a contractor called Lukoria Investment Limited company based in Chingola, and worked as a scraper driver. On duty they were supposed to be six, under strict supervision of the mine captain, section boss and four others. But instead, they were just two on duty – the Mine Captain, Section boss and two others were not working, leaving two guys on duty to do all the donkey work.

The scraper driver had to do his job and the other guy(name withheld) had to alternate from 870m to 930m depth to ensure hauling of copper was going through to the scraper and below. If a failure in that process is experienced, a mild blast has to be carried out to allow continuous hauling of copper stones. These guys have all been trained in blasting techniques and procedures, and have valid Blasting Licences.

Probably on that fateful day, in going up and down underground in the midst of making an explosive ready, the scraper driver was unaware that the colleague was ready to blast, due to the manpower shortage. When the blast occurred, the scraper driver became the victim without the other colleague knowing it. This happened at about 03:10hrs. When a blast happens, it leaves a lot of dust and it takes close to 30 minutes for visibility to be normal. When the colleague checked the truck, he realised that the Scraper driver was dead. That is when he alerted the surface. A search was done and the body was discovered at 04hrs and brought to the surface at 05:50.

Enock Mwape has left two children and wife behind. He was a Jehovah’s Witness Church member.

Immediately, KCM machinery kicked in to cover up the mistakes, and by the time the report was being released, the Log Book was being cooked. A verified source has confirmed that these guys had been working with only two people on shift for sometime, and it had never bothered KCM. If they were allowed to work like that, the possibility of such an accident happening was quite high because of stress and fatigue. It was a time bomb, with an accident inevitable at some point.

This was purely an error on the part of KCM administration, but the company gave a false report and blamed it on the dead, running away from the responsibility of complying with the Mines and Safety Regulations.

The real questions we should all ask are:-

Who authorised such an operation in the night?
Why were the Mine Captain and Section boss not at work at the time of an accident?
Why has the Log Book at KCM been cooked and doctored?
Why has KCM claimed Enock Mwape as its employee when in fact he is not?
Who are the owners of that subcontracted company called Lukoria, and why is not in the picture?

Not too long ago there was another fatality at the mine when one young man was also blasted by a similar explosive but it was not reported. All these errors being committed are because KCM is implementing the rules in an upside-down manner.

Furthermore, the company has allowed an Indian in the name of Sharma to be in charge of mining operations when he is too old and can’t cope with the complex mining techniques. In fact, Hastings Sholande, a Zambian, is well qualified and experienced to take up that job, and perhaps he may give life a priority and profit a second priority. Just like Underground Production Manager Earnest Chibomba, these Zambians can certainly do better, going by their vast experience and exposure in the mining industry.

If KCM continues to blame the dead for its incompetence, the truth has to be exposed to defend the dead who can only be defended with nothing but the truth from the lies of the lier.

I have written and exposed this based on my investigations and well researched facts. Next, I will show you how inhumane KCM has become to the community of Buntungwa and Kasala wards, where they are destroying houses and human life.

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