An assessment of the environmental impacts of Nchanga Open Pit Mine in Chingola
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Nchanga Open Pit mine was privatized in 1998. The new owners, Konkola Copper Mines, invested about $260 million with a view of maximizing returns on this investment. This meant that they had to reduce operation costs, a move that raised questions as ti whether environmental protection was a priority. The concerns were serious because mining operations have the potential to cause air, water, land and noise pollution in the surrounding environment.It thus became necessary to find out the nature and types of environmental impacts of mining at the open pit, the people's perception of these impacts and also the litigation and mitigation measures put in place by the mine owners. Nchanga Township was thus selected to be the study area.Several methods were used in the collection of data which included personal interviews, direct observations, maps and literature reviews, soil and water sample analysis for pH as well as a questionnaire survey in which two questionnaires were used. A structured questionnaire was administered to 50 respondents who were randomly selected in Nchanga Township. A non-structured questionnaire was administered to key informers working at the mine. It was found out that the mining process at the Open Pit released dust to the air. This was mainly due to blasting operations and the circulation of haul trucks on the pit roads. There was also an increase in the level of noise caused by the mining equipment and blasiting operations. It was also found out that the excavatiosn, covering an area approximately 9.46 Km will lead to the area becoming a wasteland after the mineral deposits are exhausted. Suspended solid particles resulting from carry over of sediments with run-off from the pit slopes resulted in water contamination.The residents of Nchanga Township strongly felt that mining operations at the Open Pit had a negative impact on their environment. Unfortunately, the litigation and mitigation measures of these negative impacts by management at the mine were not effective as they ignored the residential areas. It was eventually concluded that mining at N.O.P impacts negatively on the environment in Nchanga Township and most probably Chingola as a whole. The mining operations led to lowering of the air quality, reduction in the water clarity and noise pollution.