Zambia's resource problem

  @FortuneMagazine November 27, 2013: 2:21 PM ET
FIO09 zambia

The Collum Coal Mine in Sinazeze in southern Zambia


Patson Mangunje has seen his village, Sinazeze, in southern Zambia, transform in the past 10 years. A local government representative in his sixties, he has lived here since the village was nothing more than a strip of fertile land on the way to Victoria Falls. He was in Sinazeze when five Chinese brothers arrived more than a decade ago and started a coal mine; he and his neighbors celebrated the new investment and the potential of what could come with it. He was in Sinazeze when things at the mine started to go wrong. In 2008 his son Bruce quit the mine after working there for four years -- he said his Chinese supervisor had beaten him. In 2010 a protest by the local miners for higher wages ended after their Chinese bosses opened fire and several ended up shot. Last year Mangunje's son-in-law died in an accident -- trapped under falling rocks -- in the mine. Also in 2012 a huge, chaotic protest led to the death of a Chinese supervisor who was crushed in the mine by a trolley. The Zambian government took control of Collum Coal Mine earlier this year, but Mangunje remains incensed. "There is proper negligence underground," he says. "The situation at the mine took us back to colonialism, where we had no say."

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