Impacts of mining on land use - A case (study) of Luanshya district, Zambia

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

Copper mining is the main driver of Zambia’s economic growth and development and plays a significant role in the global supply of materials for electrical, plumbing, heating and transport equipment among other benefits. However, primary production and beneficiation of copper pose serious risks to the mining districts such as environmental pollution, landscape alterations, land degradation and social economic challenges to the host communities. This research looks at the landscape alterations in the mining district of Luanshya, and how these alterations are related to mining and other land uses. Using remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the landscape alterations were mapped and analysed to identify the processes causing these alterations and their impacts on land use. Secondly, stakeholder interviews were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the mapped landscape alterations, what the approach has been to land use planning and the stakeholder roles in this planning. Analysis of the findings identifies that landscape alterations in the district have been caused by different inter-related mechanisms stemming from a number of causes. These causes include high dependency on copper mining; inadequate enforcement of environmental legislation; lack of state involvement in land use planning of mining districts; and also global factors such as commodity market conditions. As a result, boom and bust commodity cycles have had significant impacts on the wellbeing of both mining communities and the environment. These impacts are not limited to the mine sites alone but extend to entire districts. This research also identifies that while mining plays a vital role in the economic development of Zambia, adequate enforcement of environmental legislation and adoption of inclusive land use planning may stimulate sustainable development of mining districts and foster sustainable land use patterns. Furthermore, this study recommends that future land use planning must be dynamic in terms of adopting postmining restoration of landscapes and infrastructure while also taking the direct and indirect impacts of mining into account.