Chinese firms 'abusing' Zambian miners

2011-11-03 10:17
Lusaka - Chinese mining companies in Zambia, Africa's biggest copper producer, are routinely flouting laws designed to protect workers' safety and the right to organise, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.

In a report likely to pile more pressure on Chinese firms to clean up their labour practices, the New York-based body urged newly elected president Michael Sata to follow through on campaign promises to stamp out abuse of workers in the sector.

The 122-page study detailed persistent abuses in Chinese-run mines, including poor health and safety conditions, and regular 12-hour and even 18-hour shifts involving arduous labour - all in violation of Zambian law.

Furthermore, HRW said mine bosses routinely threatened to fire workers who refused to work in dangerous locations underground or tried to report their grievances to mining regulators.

The four Chinese-run copper mining companies in Zambia are subsidiaries of China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Corporation (CNMC), a state-owned enterprise.

CNMC in Zambia did not respond to requests for comment.

Copper mining is the lifeblood of the landlocked southern African nation's economy, contributing nearly three-quarters of its foreign exchange earnings, while China is the biggest investor, having sunk more than $2bn into the sector.

"China's significant investment in Zambia's copper mining industry can benefit both Chinese and Zambians," said Daniel Bekele, HRW's Africa director.

Foreign investment

"But the miners in Chinese-run companies have been subject to abusive health, safety, and labour conditions and long-time government indifference."

Opposition leader Sata came to power in September on the back of a populist election platform that included virulent criticism of Chinese mining investment.

Since taking office, he has toned down his rhetoric and stressed the need for foreign investment, but has made clear that all companies must observe labour laws.

After his victory, analysts said Sata was unlikely to make drastic changes for fear of derailing an industry goal of doubling annual copper output to 1.5 million tonnes by 2016 - an increase that will also yield fruits to Zambia's treasury.

Other mining firms in Zambia include Canada's First Quantum Minerals and Barrick Gold , London-listed commodity giant Glencore and Vedanta Resources , South Africa's Metorex .

HRW said its research was based on three field visits between November 2010 and July 2011 and drew on more than 170 interviews with workers from both Chinese and other companies.

Eleven workers were shot and injured during a pay dispute at a Chinese-run mine last year. Five others were hurt during a similar confrontation at a different mine in 2005.

Read more on:    hrw  |  michael sata  |  zambia  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
13 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!

 
 

I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.