Zambia seizes control of Chinese-owned mine amid safety fears

Collum coal mine Collum Coal mine is based south of Lusaka

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The Zambian government has taken over the running of a Chinese-owned coal mine after revoking its licence because of safety lapses.

The Zambian mining minister, Yamfwa Mukanga, said that the government had cancelled all three licences held by Collum Coal mine.

He said the government would "continue operating them until a suitable investor is found".

China has invested more than $2bn in the Zambian mining industry.

According to Beijing, China has created 50,000 jobs in Zambia, with trade between the two countries reaching $3.5bn in 2011.

Mr Mukanga said the mine had a poor safety, health and environmental record.

"Collum coal mine has failed to consistently provide employees with approved personal protective equipment" he told a news briefing.

He added that it did not have emergency medical treatment facilities such as ambulances or a first-aid station underground.

As well as the safety issues, Mr Mukanga also stated that the company had failed to pay royalties or properly declare how much coal was produced.

The mine in question has been controversial.

A Zambian miner was charged with the murder of a Chinese supervisor at the Collum mine last year. In 2010, Chinese managers were accused of firing on protesting miners.

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