Kitwe is the largest city on the Zambian Copperbelt. Copper has been exploited around Kitwe for more than seventy years with severe environmental consequences. Tailings impoundments and a large metallurgical facility located near Kitwe are suspected of causing surface water and groundwater pollution. Several installations are located in sensitive headwaters. One such tailings impoundment is Dump 15 A, runoff from which flows into the Mwambashi River, where water is drained for agriculture and for domestic consumption in Kitwe. The Mwambashi is a tributary of the Kafue River on which more than 40% of the Zambian population depend for water. The quality of this water is therefore critical to the general health of the Zambian populace. Fatal poisoning of livestock has been reported along the banks of the Mwambashi River.To assess the impact on the water environment, a study of the spatial distribution of environmental aspects has been undertaken using a GIS. The results of the spatial data analysis are combined with geochemical modelling to determine the characteristics of surface waters and how these change over time and spaceData acquired by Landsat TM, land cover data derived from maps, water quality data and the results of water-quality modelling can be combined to present a comprehensive picture of water quality alteration due to mine installations and their impact on the Mwambashi and Kafue rivers. Difficulties associated with this approach include the absence of historical surface water data and the low density of sampling points in the area of interest.
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- Assessment of Mining Induced Environmental Degradation Using Satellite Data and Predictive Models
- Springer Netherlands
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