BGS/CBU-ACESM Exchange Visit, Zambia

Hamilton, E.M.; Mitchell, C.J.; Maseka, K.K.. 2022 BGS/CBU-ACESM Exchange Visit, Zambia. Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey, 22pp. (OR/22/048) (Unpublished)

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The Copperbelt Province in Zambia is a world-renowned mining centre that is responsible for a significant proportion of the global copper (Cu) and cobalt (Co) production. Over the last 100 years the mineral processing and refining operations in the Copperbelt have produced large volumes of mineral and slag waste. Past research collaboration between the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Copperbelt University Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining (CBU-ACESM) has focused on the environmental impact of Potentially Harmful Elements (PHEs) associated with this waste material, and the subsequent human health risk for proximal subsistence communities. In May 2022 a small team from the BGS visited the CBU-ACESM as part of an exchange visit to disseminate the findings of the past research (an exercise delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic) and to explore the potential for future research collaboration. The week-long visit included workshops with CBU-ACESM stakeholders and small-scale miners, discussions with CBU-ACESM staff, field excursions to the copper refinery slag stockpile (the ‘Black Mountain’) in Nkana West and a silica sand operation near Kalulushi and lecture sessions for CBU students. The recent (at the time of writing) acquisition of nearly 50% of the ‘Black Mountain’ slag stockpile (approximately 10 million tonnes) by a cooperative of small-scale miners has led to significant disruption and transportation of slag material throughout Nkana West and surrounding towns, creating large quantities of fugitive dust in the process. Assessment of the human health risk (HHRA) and adoption of better practices for reworking tailings material is essential to improve the sustainability of the cooperative’s processing; the CBU-ACESM PhD student, alongside the BGS’ International Geoscience Research & Development (IGRD) programme, are well-placed to address these issues. The relationship between the BGS and CBU-ACESM has been strengthened by the exchange visit, through direct engagement and discussions with new and established contacts. It builds on a research collaboration dating back to 2013, with potential for future research collaboration via two CBU-ACESM funded PhDs focusing on the environmental contamination posed by the copper refinery slag stockpiles ‘Black Mountain’ in the Kitwe area. There is also potential for research collaboration to be explored further on battery raw materials, particularly graphite, for Electric Vehicle battery manufacture and on sand mining.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Funders/Sponsors: British Geological Survey
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item has been internally reviewed, but not externally peer-reviewed.
Date made live: 13 Jul 2022 13:00 +0 (UTC)

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