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China says 31 nationals detained in Zambia for illegal mining

BEIJING – Zambia has detained 31 Chinese nationals for illegal mining in the African country’s copper belt but has failed to provide strong proof of their crimes, a senior Chinese diplomat said as he lodged a complaint.

Lin Songtian, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s director-general for African affairs, told a Zambian diplomat in Beijing that China understands and supports actions to crack down on illegal mining, the ministry said in a statement late on Sunday.

However, Zambia had not only not provided strong proof of the crimes of the 31 detained but had also detained a pregnant woman and two others with malaria, Lin said.

“China expresses serious concern and resolute opposition to this,” the ministry cited Lin as saying.

China hoped that Zambia could handle the incident appropriately and as soon as possible, and release those who are innocent, Lin said.

Chinese companies have invested more than $1-billion in copper-rich Zambia but there has been animosity, with some Zambian workers accusing firms of abuses and underpaying.

In 2012, Zambian miners killed a Chinese supervisor and seriously wounded another in a pay dispute at a coal mine.

Zambian police charged two Chinese supervisors at the same coal mine with attempted murder two years earlier after the shooting of 13 miners in a pay dispute.

Resource-hungry China is investing heavily in Africa, a supplier of oil and raw materials like copper and uranium, but critics have warned that its companies are taking with them their poor track record on workers’ rights and environmental protection.

Source : Mining Weekly

5.3 earthquake shakes South Africa, one dead

One person has been reported dead in a 5.3 magnitude earthquake which struck six kilometres east of Orkney in the North West on Tuesday.

A 31-year-old man was found deceased in an old mining village in Orkney, in the North West,” said ER24 spokeswoman Luyanda Majija.

“He was found lying under some debris.”

Emergency workers were at the mining village, searching for mineworkers presumed to be trapped in 11 shafts. Majija could not immediately confirm the name of the mine.

The tremors were felt in various parts of the country, shaking buildings, rattling windows and resulting in building evacuations.

The US Geological Survey said on its website “Earthquake” the quake was felt as far off as Botswana.

“This earthquake is severely dangerous because the epicentre is located right below Orkney and Klerksdorp,” it said.

It reported that severe shaking was felt in Klerksdorp and there was an unconfirmed report of a building that had collapsed, where people were trapped.

Another report on the website said a school building in Klerksdorp shook so badly that pupils were thrown off balance.

“Our school has three storeys and I was in the middle when it shook. We dove for the door along with our geography teacher and we were told to evacuate the building,” said a pupil on the website.

“We are on the football field, damage [was] done to multiple classrooms.”

Another person on the website reported that two children were injured at an Orkney mine, and that buildings were damaged.

The Council for Geosciences could not immediately be reached for comment.

The quake struck after midday on Tuesday, shaking buildings and rattling pictures in offices, including Sapa’s headquarters in Greenside, Johannesburg.

People immediately took to social media to report it.

“Who else just felt the earthquake. That was a crazy… tremor,” said Johannesburg resident Adrian Patrick on Facebook.

“Here in Durban too,” responded Byron David.

Citizens from Johannesburg to KwaZulu-Natal, North West, and Cape Town reported feeling the quake.

Sapa’s reporter in Durban said people in the 32-storey Durban Bay House, one of the tallest buildings in the city, were evacuated.

Hundreds of people were milling around Anton Lembede Street where the building is located in the city centre.

“I felt it. I thought I was going mad. I stood up and saw my colleagues rushing out,” said Lungelo Xaba, who works on 17th floor of the building.

Johannesburg emergency services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said the tremor was felt in most parts of the city.

“The city has not received any reports of injuries, or collapsed building. However we will be monitoring the situation.”

Engineering geologist Oliver Parker told eNCA that it was an earthquake, and went into details about the history of earthquakes on the sub-continent.

Source – Timeslive


Small scale miners in sponsorship talks

The Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small Scale for Sustainable Mining Council (ZASMC) are involved in talks with various donors including those from Australia and Denmark bid to formalise operations of more than 1,5 million small- scale miners.

ZASMC president Wellington Takavarasha said sponsorship of operations of small scale miners would significantly boost their livelihood and at the same time make a significant contribution to the fiscus.

“The sponsorship is going to be a major boost for the 1,5 million plus small scale miners,” Takavarasha said. “The funding will help our members become part of the mainstream economy as well as aid the development, growth and empowerment of the sector.”

He said the funding would compliment government’s efforts to formalise the sector and boost production.

Gold deposited at Fidelity Printers and Refineries by small scale miners has dropped from 17 tonnes in 2004 to just more than two tonnes in 2012.

Last year the amount of gold deposited at the central bank subsidiary by small-scale miners dropped to a paltry 959 kilogrammes.

He said government could work with the donors as they need partners to regularise levels of gold panning and end illegal trading of the mineral.

Takavarasha called for the government to introduce flexible policies that will incentivise the sector as well as boost its operations as encapsulated in the the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa — in his 2014 national budget presentation in December last year —, set up a US$100 million facility for small scale miners in apparent recognition of the vital role they could play towards boosting both the mining sector and the fragile economy.

Chinamasa also barred export of unrefined gold which is now sold to Fidelity, the sole buyer and exporter of the mineral.

In her monetary policy presentation earlier this year, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe acting governor Charity Dhliwayo said the central bank will open new buying centres to ensure access by the small scale miners to the market as well as reducing vulnerability of miners.

ZASMC estimates that artisanal and small-scale mining sector directly employs about 500 000 people in Zimbabwe on a full time, seasonal or occasional basis.

Source – theindependent