Fears about the safety of workers have prompted the Zambian government to take over the running of a Chinese-owned coal mine.
The government revoked all three licenses held by the Collum Coal mine situated 200 miles south of Lusaka in the south of the country due to violations of safety and environmental laws and a failure to pay mineral royalties.
Mining Minister Yamfwa Mukanaga said: “Collum coal mine has failed to consistently provide employees with approved personal protective equipment.”
He said there was also no emergency medical treatment facilities available to workers underground and the Chinese company had failed to pay royalties or declare how much coal it had extracted.
Controversy has surrounded the mine run by private Chinese investors as it has been the scene of a number of protests.
Mine-workers in the mineral rich copperbelt have frequently demonstrated against low wages and poor working conditions and some local traders have protested about being undercut by cheap Chinese goods.
In August 2012, a Chinese supervisor was killed by a Zambian employee during a protest over pay and in 2010, Chinese managers shot at protesting workers, although charges against the alleged culprits were subsequently dropped.
Zambia has received one of the biggest chunks of Chinese investment, which has totalled more than $2bn in the mining industry. It has been reported that China has created 50,000 jobs in Zambia.
The government had threatened to close the mine a mother earlier following an investigation into a recent death of a mine worker.
Mukanga said : "In some instances [in recent months] the entire mine has been closed to allow the mine management (to) comply with mine safety department directives, but there has been no improvement.”