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Environment

Zambia gets cash to clean up mining pollution

File photo shows Hagai Sichone, a copper mine worker, pictured underground in Cingola, Zambia, April 13, 2005. Zambia has secured $50 million from western financiers to clean up hazardous waste in copper mining areas, where 60,000 people are at risk from lead poisoning, industry officials said on Thursday. REUTERS/Salim Henry SH/RSS/TC/YH

KABWE, Zambia (Reuters) - Zambia has secured $50 million from western financiers to clean up hazardous waste in copper mining areas, where 60,000 people are at risk from lead poisoning, industry officials said on Thursday.

The World Bank has given Zambia’s Copper Belt Environmental Project (CEP) a $21 million loan and a $19 million grant. It also received $10 million from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), which promotes economic progress in developing countries.

Joseph Makumba, an official at ZCCM Investments Holdings, which runs the CEP, said the funds would be used to clean up waste and resettle people living in hazardous areas of the Copper Belt region.

Decades of copper, cobalt, zinc and lead mining has left many areas of this southern African country of 11.5 million people contaminated with poisonous substances.

Environmental efforts would also be focused on Kabwe town, north of Lusaka, where officials say the lives of about 60,000 children and adults are at risk after traces of high lead content was found in blood samples.

Some, 5,000 people in the town have been infected with lead poisoning, according to industry officials.

Copper mining is Zambia’s main economic lifeblood and the vast mines are major employer in the country.

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