NNOVATION is now the buzz word in the world today as most development problems require new solutions.
Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organisation – and in the mining sector, just like other sectors of the economy, it is very relevant now more than ever before.
For the mining sector, innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements to this complex industry.
Mining is the heartbeat of Zambia’s economy. Zambia hosts an estimated 10 percent of the world’s known copper reserves and has a wide variety of other minerals and metals in different parts of the country.
And mining companies in Zambia, just like elsewhere in the world, are required to follow stringent environmental guidelines in order to minimise environmental impacts that result from water and air pollution, and have an effect on human health.
Mining causes noise pollution, damages infrastructure such as houses in mining townships due to blasting and contributes to land degredation.
The guidelines and regulations, therefore demand an environmental impact assessment, development of environmental management plans, mine closure planning (which must be done before the start of mining operations), and environmental monitoring during operation and after closure.
It is not a secret that most times, these regulations are not being well enforced due to various factors ranging from lack of capacity by mine safety inspectors to lack of compliance by mine operators.
As mines strive to improve the performance of the mining sector by targeting higher production figures, they should not do so at the expense of the environment.
There is, therefore, need to put in place necessary measures to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of mining.
However, things are now looking up – thanks to advancements in technology and the desire by mines for introspection.
One such innovation in Zambia has been scored by the Zambia Chamber of Mines by coming up with awards.
Last Friday, the Chamber of Mines awarded deserving personalities and mining companies for their contribution to the sector last year.
Now in their second year, the mining awards are designed to provide a platform for recognising service and excellence of individuals and member countries in the mining industry, whose efforts have remained unnoticed in the past.
The awards are a form of peer review by the mines because they evaluate work by one or more people of similar competence.
That mines allow judges, who are distinguished members of the mining profession, constitutes a form of self-regulation by the mines.
Through the Chamber of Mines, peer review methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility.
It is, therefore, important to reward industry performers to motivate them to continue working hard and inspire others to improve their performance and aim higher.
Mining companies that subscribe to these awards deserve commendation because it demonstrates their willingness to be better corporate citizens, better employers, better environmental managers and better mines.
We agree with deputy minister of mines Richard Musukwa that in future, the chamber should consider awarding companies that are taking up initiatives to integrate into the local economy through capacity building.
Mining companies should also embark on local sourcing of goods and services and greater engagement with local communities in their operations.