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Rioting Zambian miners kill Chinese manager

06 August 2012

Workers at the Collum coal mine in Zanbia, protesting over the Chinese-owned and managed company's failure to increase the minimum wage to a previously-agreed figure, killed Chinese mine manager Wu Shengzai and injured two others, according to the Chinese embassy in Lusaka.

Conditions are said to be particularly primitive at the Collum mine, which has seen a number of riots over the years
Conditions are said to be particularly primitive at the Collum mine, which has seen a number of riots over the years

Wu was killed when he attempted to escape the miners by entering into the underground mine and rioters crushed him by pushing a coal trolley into him.

Eleven Zambians were injured during the riot. In another incident last year, management fired upon the workers and injured several. Although the managers were charged with attempted murder, charges were subsequently dropped under pressure from the Chinese embassy. 

Zambia’s Minister of Labor and Social Security said the killing of the manager was a criminal act that had nothing to do with any industrial dispute.

According to Human Rights Watch, miners face particularly bad conditions in Chinese-run copper mines in Zambia.

The NGO said in a report: "miners from the Chinese-owned companies described consistently poor health and safety standards, including inadequate ventilation that can lead to serious lung diseases, the failure to replace workers’ damaged protective equipment, and routine threats to fire workers who refuse to work in unsafe places underground.

"These practices, combined with the already dangerous nature of copper mining, cause injuries and other health complications. At times, Chinese managers bribe or threaten miners to keep them from reporting accidents or other problems to the government’s Mines Safety Department.”

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