Zambians Accuse Barrick Gold of Contaminating Lumwana River
11 May 2012 - 11:24 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
lusaKa, Zambia — Residents of the Lumwana area in northwestern Zambia’s Solwezi district are demanding that Barrick Gold Corp. provide them with piped water, after they say the company’s Lumwana Mine operation contaminated their main water source, the Lumwana River.
The Zambia Environmental Management Agency has promised to evaluate whether water in the river is safe for consumption.
Last week, it was reported that members of the Lumwana community were refusing to draw water from the river or nearby boreholes because of the alleged pollution.
At a stakeholders' meeting in the area on May 5, local people accused the mining giant of discharging toxic effluent from its tailings plant into the river; they said this had been going on since 2009.
Community representative Aggrey Shatewa said that not only have residents been drinking contaminated water, but that over the past three years when the river has flooded, it has destroyed crops.
Solwezi District Commissioner Dennis Kanyakula said the government is monitoring all mining processes and is eager to ensure that the population is protected from any harm.
He pledged to engage the mine’s management and the local water utility company to find a better way of providing safe and clean drinking water to the community.
The environmental management agency says it will ensure that the water from the tailings dam is thoroughly tested before it is discharged into the Lumwana River.