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Zambian Mine Improves Profits Sustainably


In terms of its natural and mineral resources, Africa is the richest continent in the world. This wealth of resources can serve as an engine for growth and development of Africa’s economy and its people.


First Quantum Minerals’ (FQM) mining operation in Kalumbila, Zambia showcases how the mining sector can stimulate economic development, and promote environmental sustainability in Africa and the world. FQM’s project is managed by the company’s subsidiary Kalumbila Minerals Limited (KML) and includes copper and nickel mining activities in the country’s North-West province.

Miombo forests cover large parts of Zambia. Kalumbila Minerals use Wood-Mizer sawmills to unlock the value of these woodlands sustainably.

KML is truly leading the way in showcasing how mining companies can contribute to local economic growth while responsibly caring for local natural resources.


People matter

Garth Lappeman, KML’s Foundation Manager, shares that the company has emphasized the employment of local people - “our Timber Recovery Project trained and currently employs 70 local people, and only 9 skilled Zambians from other provinces had to be hired to train up the employees from local communities” he shares.

KML’s log yard shows how much salvageable timber can be turned into high-value sawn products.


The additional employment at KML has strengthened weak local economies. A small-scale subsistence farmer growing cassava and maize on a three hectare plot is an example of this. Before finding work at KML, the farmer was barely able to support his family, only producing 50 bags of cassava and maize annually.


Now, with the income from his new job, the farmer has had the means to expand his farming activities. He has hired five workers, who now grow his crops, raising his production to 75 bags per crop without fertilizer. The extra income has also been invested in 5500 bricks for a new, 5-roomed house for his family.


The farmer also benefits from KML’s conservation farming skills training program that teaches farmers how to produce good crops that rely less on insecticides and fertilizers that can be harmful and expensive to buy.


Trees matter

Land clearing for mining is usually done with bulldozers that remove the trees and brush and reshape the land before mining can start. The loss of plant cover and biodiversity and poorer soils make it less likely for an area to support future crops successfully.


Usually removed trees are not utilised very efficiently. The timber is used to produce low value charcoal or is simply burned. However, KML has implemented an innovative plan to maximise profitability from their land-cleared timber, along with reforestation and conservation.


The timber recovery project includes a fully equipped sawmill and a furniture factory where the sawn timber is turned into school furniture such as desks, chairs and doors. These are distributed through KML’s social investment division, the Trident Foundation, to schools throughout Zambia.


KML’s forest management program supplies local communities with indigenous trees for replanting. Thinner trees that are harvested are used to fence off reforested land and areas used to re-introduce game to the region.


Timber that does not meet furniture grade will be used for timber sleepers that the mine’s water pipeline will rest on, instead of concrete, so a less expensive and recyclable material.


Sawmilling can protect Africa’s timber resources

KML cuts land-cleared logs into sawn timber with a complete sawmill line from Wood-Mizer. Harvested logs that meet the right requirements are first transported to the company’s log yard to wait for processing.


Two Wood-Mizer LT20B electric sawmills are used to square the logs into cants, which then pass through two Wood-Mizer HR200 single head resaws that cut the cants into boards at the required thicknesses.

Primary log breakdown is done with a pair of LT20B sawmills.


The HR200 resaws also process the slabs into boards with waney edges. The resawn slabs then pass through a Wood-Mizer EG300 twin-edge board edger that removes both waney edges in one pass.

Two Wood-Mizer HR200 resaws cut slabs into boards with waney edges. Sitting behind them, the EG300 twin blade edger removes both waney edges in one pass.

An important part of the sawmill is the saw shop where the blades are sharpened and set.


The saw shop has a Wood-Mizer BMS500 industrial sharpener that sharpens the blades to factory standards in a simple and convenient way. The BMS500 is designed for high-production sawmills that sharpen blades continuously.  A Wood-Mizer BMT300 industrial tooth setter then sets the blade teeth to the needed set specifications.


The BMS500 and BMT300 enable KML to sharpen and set their blades to the highest specifications. This allows them to cut very hard timber species into high quality boards easily and efficiently.

Because KML maintain their own blades, less money is spent on buying new blades or paying contractors to service blades – decreasing costs and improving productivity.

KML’s ability to maintain their own blades means less money is spent on buying new blades or paying contractors to service blades – decreasing costs and improving productivity.

High quality, furniture-grade boards ready for shipment to a furniture factory.

Primary log breakdown is done with a pair of LT20B sawmills.


The sawmill enables KML to take full advantage of the value their timber offers, and care for their environment more profitably and sustainably.


KML’s case gives more credence to the fact that Africa must learn how to use its resources responsibly to improve African lives and economies first, before those resources are allowed to leave the continent. Turning logs into valuable sawn timber benefits people, grows the continent’s economy and can inspire people to protect and replant Africa’s timber reserves to support life now and into the future.


Wood-Mizer – For Timber, For People.

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