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Collum Coal Mine, Zambia

Working class environmentalism by Zambian coal miners meets with violence to protect the activity of a Chinese company


The Collum Coal Mine is located in Zambia's Southern Province in the district of Sinazongwe and has been in existence since around 2000. The company operating the mine is privately-owned and Chinese, run essentially by five brothers of the Xu family from China's Jiangxi Province.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Collum Coal Mine, Zambia
State or province:Southern Province of Zambia
Location of conflict:Sinazeze, Sinazongwe
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The Collum coal mine is privately owned by five Chinese brothers and has been operational since around 2000. It employs around 1000 employees and has been reported to produce around 100,000 tonnes of coal per year.

Project area:N/A
Level of Investment:40,000,000 for the latest renovation (2015).
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:660
Start of the conflict:01/10/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Collum Coal Mining Industries Ltd from China
Relevant government actors:Zambia Environmental Management Agency
Zambia's Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Human Rights Watch:
Gemstone & Allied Workers Union of Zambia (GAWUZ)
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Industrial workers
International ejos
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Soil contamination
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Militarization and increased police presence
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Collum Coal Mining Industries Ltd operated the mine until 2013, but in 2015 they were allowed to resume operations under a promise of improved working and environmental conditions.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Chinese-owned private company operating the Collum Coal Mine stopped managing the mine between 2013 and 2015, while still remaining in operation under State management. In 2015, the Chinese company was allowed to resume operations under a promise of improved working and environmental conditions. But it is uncertain whether the demands of workers for higher wages and better working and environmental conditions are now better taken into account.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

SAUTMAN, (B.), HAIRONG, (Y.), (2014), Bashing 'the Chinese: contextualizing Zambia's Collum Coal Mine Shooting, Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 23, No. 90, p. 1073-1092,
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Center for Media and Democracy (2012), Collum Coal Mine, Profile on,
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Chinese bosses charged over Zambian mine shooting, BBC News Africa, 18 October 2010,
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Zambia Drops Case of Shooting by Chinese Mine Bosses, by Barry Bearak, The New York Times, 4 April 2011,
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Zambian miners kill Chinese manager during pay protest, BBC News Africa, 5 August 2012,
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One dead in Chinese coal mine disputes in Zambia, China Daily, 6 August 2012,
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Zambia police charge miner over killing of Chinese supervisor, Reuters, 7 August 2012,
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China, Zambia, and a Clash in a Coal Mine, by Alexis Okeowo, The New Yorker, 9 October 2013,
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Chinese shoot and injure 11 at Collum Coal Mine, Lusaka Times, 15 October 2010,
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Zambia Reopens Chinese-owned Collum Coal Mine
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Collum Coal Mine operations in Sinazongwe District to temporary remain suspended-Government, Lusaka Times, 11 August 2012,
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Zambia seizes control of Chinese-owned mine amid safety fears, BBC News Business, 20 February 2013,
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Zambia Bites Back: Scandal at Collum Coal Mine, by Jennifer Cheng, Time, 16 July 2013,
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Zambia Collum Coal Mine in Pictures, Lusaka Voice, 7 March 2014,
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Other documents

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Meta information
Last update26/08/2015
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