CHINGOLA, APRIL 4, 2017 – Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) today took a major step towards the coming to life of a bio-diesel project, which will be a first for a tailing storage facility in Zambia and for elite Pongamia Pinnata trees to be used in mine rehabilitation.
KCM teamed-up with the Minister of Works and Supply and Chingola MP Honourable Matthew Nkhuwa and other local leaders to plant 500 elite Pongamia trees on a four-hectare overburden site to bring to 2,000, trees planted all as part of the pilot programme to determine the viability of producing bio-diesel from the trees.
The project has the potential to create 500 direct jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs for the youths in agro-forestry, farming, bio-energy processing, and energy service delivery. The commercial project is targeted for 650 hectares of land with 400,000 trees to be planted at an estimated cost of US$7 million.
Mr Nkhuwa noted that, “the government is spending huge amounts of money to import fuel into the country every month. With projects such as this, the burden on the government will be lighter and resources will be channeled to other areas for holistic development.” He added that, “The government is creating an enabling environment for public private partnerships such as this one in order to foster development.”
KCM Chief Executive Officer Steven Din said during the event that the project attested to the company’s commitment to invest in clean energy as an integral part of the KCM vision for sustainable development. “The trees we have planted here will revegetate a disused dump site, suck-up impurities and fix back nitrogen to the soil, improving its fertility.
In addition to all this, employment will be created for the local people,’’ Mr Din noted. The company is working in partnership with Better World Energy on the project seeking to re-fertilise bare land which KCM currently cannot use for agriculture purposes.
In addition, the project will provide a cheap and environmental-friendly source of energy for KCM. Pongamia is an ideal plant for recovering a variety of waste burdens such as saline soil reclamation. It brings soils back to life as the nitrogen and carbon feed rich soil microbial communities enabling other plants to grow on previously dead soil. Virtually, every part of the Pongamia tree is useful, with the seeds producing biodiesel and seedcake from the trees used to make briquettes for cooking and cattle feed after removing toxins.
The slurry can be used as a fertilizer, and because the tree is repulsive to animals naturally, bio-pesticides can be made from it.