Geological Survey of Finland Participates in Developing the Remediation and Closure of Mining Waste Areas in Zambia

Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) participated in a project funded by the World Bank that promoted the remediation and closure of mining waste areas. The project created a national plan with an overview of the current situation and providing instructions for the sustainable long-term development of mining operations, with a special emphasis on safety and the environment.

A landscape in Zambia

“GTK has a lot of expertise on the responsible remediation and closure of mining waste areas. It was rewarding and interesting to be in Africa implementing an export project that is developing the management of mining waste,” says Päivi Kauppila, Chief Expert, GTK.

The project was carried out by a consortium led by the international engineering and consulting group DMT, with GeoQuest (a Zambian based geological, environmental, GIS and Hydrogeological consultancy company) as the local operator. The work was ordered by the Zambian ministry responsible for developing mining and minerals operations, and the ZMERIP project (Zambian Mining and Environmental Remediation and Improvement Project), which operates under the ministry and focuses on the environmental challenges posed by mines.

“What boosted the national impact of the project was that we had a local partner who knew the area and culture, and had existing connections to the ministry,” explains Anna Tornivaara, Team Manager at GTK and the Project Manager of the World bank project.

Comprehensive overview of the mining activities in Zambia

The project’s objective was to gain a comprehensive overview of the organisation of mining activities in Zambia. In addition to the overview, the project investigated three geographical areas in Zambia in more detail, including nine mines of different sizes and operating stages in these areas. The materials collected from the mining sites formed the basis of an assessment of how well the current policies are being implemented in the mines.

“The materials consisted of varying amounts of permits, reports, monitoring data and other such things. Based on the materials and a field survey that lasted almost three weeks, we were able to give concrete suggestions for how to improve the operations and draw up a prioritised national action plan for the ministry,” continues Anna Tornivaara.

Education embedded to the project to deepen the local knowledge

Whenever possible, GTK’s project exports include an education module that deepens the local knowledge and expertise on subject matters associated with the project. This increases the area’s local expertise and ability to make an impact.

“Due to the pandemic, the field surveys were implemented by the local partner, GeoQuest, with the international research scientists participating at the end of each day in remote summarisation meetings. The field surveys also included authorities who wished to increase their expertise. The pandemic required the more extensive training to be held remotely as a workshop, which worked well and received positive feedback,” says Päivi Kauppila.

The deliverable of the project, i.e. the national action plan, focuses on primary development needs such as the development of laws and regulations on mining and the environment, and monitoring the existing regulations. These are closely linked to the development of government, such as a working collaboration

between the different authorities, training that focuses on best environmental practices, and the digitalisation and systematic archiving of documents related to mining operations.

Tangible development measures stated in the report are guaranteeing sufficient resources for monitoring the condition of the environment, and the mining companies’ compliance with their obligations and ways of finding the correct parties for executing obligations, and preventing illegal mining. The national development plan is part of the overall framework of the ZMERIP project, which is striving for a more sustainable and responsible mining sector in Zambia.

Further information

Päivi Kauppila, Chief Expert, Geological Survey of Finland
tel. +358 29 503 3715,

Anna Tornivaara, Team Manager, Geological Survey of Finland
tel. +358 29 503 3984,