ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources: Copper mining in Zambia:Copper products
The following is a list of properties of copper:
- Copper is ductile. Meaning it can be made into wire.
- It can be polished, thus it is used for making ornaments for example, copper plates, cups and trays.
- It is malleable and it can be molded into various shapes to make fire screens.
- It can be mixed with other metals to form alloys such as bronze used to make bronze medals.
- It is rust resistant thus it can be used in the manufacture of water pipes.
Some of the products that are made using copper are:
- Electrical wires
- Water pipes
- Car radiators
Benefits of copper mining
- Export earnings.
- Employment creation.
- Development of power and infrastructure (roads, railway lines). This has benefited other sectors of the economy such as the agriculture and heavy industries.
- Development of human resources through direct investment in education and on the job training.
- Development of social services for example education, health and recreation.
- Higher salaries and wages for the workers. Mine workers also benefit from subsidized housing and health care.
- Raw materials for industries.
Disadvantages of copper
Copper mining has its own disadvantage as far the Zambia economy is concerned. These include:
- Neglect of agriculture and underdevelopment in other areas. All development efforts are concentrated on the Copper belt region.
- Rural to urban migration which has resulted in depopulation of the areas surrounding the Copper belt.
- Over-dependency on copper has resulted in dwindling of foreign currency earning due to fluctuation in the price of copper on the world market.
- Migrant labour disrupts the traditional way of life. The family structure is weakened and subsistence farming suffers due to shortage of labour.
- Pollution of the environment which is caused by dust from quarry sites, mines dumps and processing plants.
- Frequently landslides occurs on the mine dumps.
- Environment is degraded and vegetation and animal habitats destroyed.
NB Foreign ownership of mines can create problems for example in the early 2002 Anglo-American withdrew from Zambia creating ghost towns. This has been alleviated to some extent by Chinese mining companies but the problem will persist if the Chinese firms withdraw at some point.
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