Residents living in the Kantanshi townships around the Mopani copper operation in Zambia are now experiencing a cleaner and healthier environment, with even more improvements to come.
Mopani has invested over KR2.3 billion ($450 million) into the upgrade of our Mufulira smelter. This upgrade will bring emissions in line with international standards and greatly reduce the sulphur dioxide emissions that have affected the area for over 70 years, with 97% of emissions to be captured.
The smelter was built in 1937 and little has been done to maintain or update its processes. We began to operate this asset in 2000; from the outset we were committed to investigating how best to upgrade the smelter to comply with international standards.
One option involved closing the processing plant, which would have enabled us to complete the work earlier but resulted in around 900 job losses, with a major impact on the local economy, which is heavily reliant on the operation. The second option was to keep the plant operational and upgrade the smelter in stages.
The smelter upgrade project is one of the biggest environmental projects ever undertaken in Zambia. It was divided into 3 stages; the first 2 were completed in 2007 and 2009, and we expect the third to be completed in the first quarter of 2014, 15 months ahead of the deadline agreed with the Zambian government. The project has generated many additional benefits for local people, with over 400 Zambians working on the project. Local businesses have been boosted by the project’s procurement requirements as it gave priority to local suppliers.
"The effort by Mopani to bring an end to sulphur dioxide emissions in Mufulira is highly commendable. Many people will be saved from the effects of the emissions which they have been subjected to for decades. The initiative will also greatly help in sustaining our environment and infrastructure."
Mrs Deborah Bwalya Mwansa of Kankoyo Township.