The legacy of mine closure in Kabwe, Zambia: What can resilience thinking offer to the mining sustainability discourse?

Orleans Mfune, Chibuye Florence Kunda-Wamuwi, Tamara Chansa-Kabali, Moses Ngongo Chisola and James Manchisi

Mining is an integral component of many national economies in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Even though mining can contribute substantially to local livelihoods and regional and national economic growth, it has also been linked to many negative sustainability impacts. The aim of this chapter is to contribute to ongoing discourses on mining sustainability in SSA, especially related to the societal impacts of mine decline and closure. Using the case of Kabwe town in Zambia, the chapter draws on resilience thinking to analyse the different stages of mining operations and outline the short- and long-term outcomes of mine closure on mine-dependent communities and identify possible policy actions and practical solutions to mitigate them. We employ the concept of the adaptive cycle, which is a central notion in resilience thinking. In particular we employ the adaptive cycle as an analytical frame for understanding the evolution of mining operations and categorizing changes that have occurred over time due to mine closure. Based on data from historical sources and in-depth interviews with various stakeholders and local residents, the chapter shows that the unexpected mine closure has had significant negative socio-economic outcomes for the mine-dependent community. Many of these negative outcomes were mediated by earlier failures to consider the eventuality of mine closure (and plan against its impacts) at the levels of the national government, local government and mining company. Based on these insights, the chapter demonstrates how resilience thinking can provide policy and practice recommendations to develop measures and interventions to mitigate the negative outcomes of mine closure.


Mfune, O., Kunda-Wamuwi, C. F., Chansa-Kabali, T., Chisola, M. N., & Manchisi, J. (2020). The Legacy of Mine Closure in Kabwe, Zambia: What Can Resilience Thinking Offer to the Mining Sustainability Discourse? In Sustainability Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa II (pp. 167–188). Singapore: Springer Singapore.

Book chapter
Lead and zinc
The legacy of mine closure in Kabwe, Zambia: What can resilience thinking offer to the mining sustainability discourse?