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POSTPONED: ASCL Seminar: Regulating copper mining: a history of environmental management in Zambia (1964-2021)

Thursday 21 January 2021

Due to unforeseen circumstances the ASCL Seminar by Dr Jennifer Chansa has unfortunately been postponed. A new date will be communicated as soon as possible. 

This lecture will take place online. Please register via the ASCL website. Registrees will receive a link a few days before the lecture. 

This presentation will examine the history of environmental pollution and management in the Zambian mining industry from 1964 to the present. The presentation will trace the development of mining-related environmental concerns since independence, in line with the emergence of global and regional environmental concerns that influenced national policies. Given the concentration of mining in the Zambian Copperbelt region, the study will draw examples from two prominent mining regions, the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Copperbelts. The regions represent variations in mine ownership, mining techniques and period of existence and, therefore, basis for comparison of environmental pollution and management in the two mining areas. The development of environmental management in the mining industry will be undertaken in line with significant political and economic transitions in the country such as the introduction of one-party rule, nationalisation and privatisation – all of which influenced its trajectory.

The presentation will demonstrate that mining-related environmental pollution has been poorly addressed in Zambia since independence due to various factors including the slow development of international, and therefore, local concerns for natural resource conservation and sustainable development; inadequate and ambiguous legislation; political and economic factors. Furthermore, the presentation will highlight that the underprioritisation of environmental pollution, particularly on the ‘old’ Copperbelt, has resulted in the culmination of severe historic and ongoing environmental issues, which further complicates regulation. The presentation will further observe that although evidence of environmental degradation in the newer North-Western Province mining areas are less obvious, the impact of mining on surrounding communities is problematic and complex due to the existing customary land-tenure system. Given this, the presentation will argue that the without regulatory reform the ‘new’ Copperbelt is likely to follow the path of the ‘old’ Copperbelt mines.

Chibamba Jennifer Chansa recently completed her PhD at the University of the Free State in South Africa and will rejoin the International Studies Group this year as a Postdoctoral fellow. She also holds a BA in History and Library and Information Studies from the University of Zambia, and an MA in African Studies from the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Jennifer’s work experience includes one year of teaching in the History Department at the University of Zambia, where she participated in courses on various aspects of Africa. Jennifer’s research interests include environmental, mining and labour history; as well as African anthropology. Her MA research focused on the ‘urbanization’ of colonial mine labour in Zambia, specifically at Kabwe Mine (then Broken Hill Mine). Based on research conducted by the Rhodes Livingstone Institute anthropologist Godfrey Wilson, the research lends a new perspective to his anthropological contribution to the study of Zambian labour history. Jennifer’s PhD dissertation examined the history of environmental pollution and management within the “old” (Copperbelt) and “new” (North-western) Copperbelt mining regions of Zambia in line with the roles of the state, mining companies and communities involved in the mining process.

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