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Copperbelt Province in Zambia covers the mineral-rich Copperbelt, and farming and bush areas to the south. It was the backbone of the Northern Rhodesian economy during British colonial rule and fuelled the hopes of the immediate post-independence period, but its economic importance was severely damaged by a crash in global copper prices in 1973 and the nationalization of the copper mines by the government of Kenneth Kaunda. The province adjoins Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is similarly mineral-rich.
The main cities of the Copperbelt are Kitwe, Ndola, Mufulira, Luanshya, Chingola and Chililabombwe. Roads and rail links extend north into the Congo to Lubumbashi, but the Second Congo War brought economic contact between the two countries to a standstill, now recovering.
It is informally referred to at times as 'Copala' or 'Kopala', implying to the vernacular-like term of the mineral copper that is mined in the province.
Copperbelt Province is divided into 10 districts:
- For more detail see Copperbelt Province in the Wildlife of Zambia
There are no national parks in this most urban and industrial of Zambia's provinces. Other parks with wildlife aspects:
- Chembe Bird Sanctuary west of Kitwe includes crocodiles and Sitatunga as well as plentiful bird life.
- Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage (established mainly to rescue captive non-indigenous chimpanzees).
The Copperbelt region of Zambia and Congo D.R. is a 500 million year old mountain chain, the Lufilian Arc, which formed when two large pieces of continental crust, the Kalahari craton and the Congo craton, collided. This collision was one of the many that happened between 700 and 500 million years ago to form the Gondwana supercontinent.
This collision is thought to have remobilised base metals, largely already present in the sediments that had accumulated in the basin between the two cratons. These brines then concentrated the base metals either along stratigraphic boundaries, or along fractures, faults or within structurally controlled 'traps' (such as the nose of a fold). The collision also produced crustal shortening, during which the stratigraphic sequence was tectonically pushed northwards on top of the Congo Craton.
The Lufilian Arc contains two diamictites, megaconglomerates of glacial origin. One of those is correlated with the Sturtian glaciation, while another correlates with the Marinoan Glaciation, both global glaciation events that had profound influence on the history of the planet.
The Lufilian Arc is correlated along trend to the west with the Damara Orogen in Namibia, which also hosts large mineral deposits.
Copperbelt Province is rich with mineral finds and mines. The name of the province is given by the rich finds of copper ore (e.g. Chingola, Konkola, Nchanga Mines), but notable are also emerald mines along Kafubu River, which in the first 6 months of 2011 yielded 3.74 tons of high quality emeralds.
- "Kagem Emerald Mines (Kafubu emerald mines)". Wondermondo.