Atop Black Mountain: More than 6 million metric tonnes of lead slag form Black Mountain, a 30-meter pile of toxic lead waste that still contains a sizable quantity of lead, copper, manganese and zinc. Due to a depressed economy and lack of employment among many of Kabwe's residents, scavengers toil daily to mine some of the richer veins of lead slag for resale to reprocessing smelters in Zambia. The work is dangerous and sometimes deadly. Weak tunnels are dug to reach the brown layers of slag, which miners claim have a higher lead content. Children work among adults in this area at the base of an operating manganese reprocessing smelter operating by the Chinese company Super Deal. The smelter burns lead and manganese slag and spews toxic fumes across the Kabwe area.
Brian Jovo, 14, and other children help older siblings and adults at the site.
"I haven't gone to school yet because there is no money," he said. I'm ready to go to school. When I get educated I want to help the government help my people."
Kabwe, Zambia--The country's second largest city (pop. 200,000 est.) is a toxic nightmare. Widely regarded as one of the most polluted cities in the world, residents here contend with a century-old legacy of pollution caused by decades lead, zinc, copper, manganese mining dating to the early 20th Century. An estimated 6 million metric tonnes of lead slag dominates the city near the now privatized Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines property a short distance from the edge of Kabwe's small city center. Mining operations ceased n 1994, but millions of cubic feet of open slag continue to poison nearby neighborhoods. Periodic flooding washes lead-bearing soil into yards and homes. Continual atmospheric migration of lead and manganese particulate from several operating smelters in the area send plumes of smoke over the city. Lead levels in yard soil in the neighborhood of Chowa, which borders the original mine property, have been measured at more than 55,000 parts per mil