Monday, 3 February 2014

AN INJUNCTION GRANTED HALTING MINING PROSPECTS IN THE LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK

The Lusaka High Court has granted the Community Based Natural Resources Management Forum (CBRM) an injunction halting mining prospects in the Lower Zambia National Park. CBNRM is a forum with membership of not less than 100 Community Based and Civil Society Organisations in Zambia. The injunction was successful lodged on Friday the 31st January, 2014, after the release of Six Environmental Activists who had been peacefully demonstrating outside the Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka where a COMESA member countries – Western Australian Business Development Meeting was taking place and was graced by His. Hon. The Vice president of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Guy Scott. The activists who arrived at the Pamodzi Hotel around 07:30hours with placards, were picked by the Zambia Police Force at about 11:00hours for questioning and were realised at about 1pm without a charge but with a "WARNING AND A CAUTION".  The are namely; Chimambo representing the Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN), Ziba representing the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM), Emanuel representing the Green Earth Movement (GEM), Mathew representing the Zambia Youth Climate Change Forum(ZYCCF), Boniface and Maggie representing the Centre for Environment Justice(CEJ). During the protest, it was clearly stated that; "AN INJUNCTION BE GRANTED BY THE HIGH COURT".  I must say, am extremely happy with this progress, but this is the first legal step to what will be a long legal battle. We all therefore, need to be in this for the long haul. 

The Zambia CBNRM Forum revealed that the developer would transport all the copper concentrate from the mine site to smelters on the Copperbelt, ‘moving 160 tonnes of concentrates per day using 6×30 tonne trucks. This is likely to lead increased pressure on and damage to roads. In addition, this has a very high risk of hazard waste spillage and increases accident risks throughout the transportation route’. It is also surprising that a mining license was issued before the EIA was approved by ZEMA and also the issue of ZAWA involvement as provided by the ZAWA policy of 1998.
Ø  31 August 2012,  ZEMA reported on the EIA: Lower Zambezi National Park Mining
The development of the Kangaluwi mining operation will be over a period of two and a half years and see the construction of a 90,000 tonnes per annum copper sulphide concentrator and maintenance workshops, fuel storage depots, mining facilities, tailings storage and water storage facilities for a mine production of about 8 million tonnes per annum, a waste rock dump, water supply facilities (most water will be supplied through various as, yet not defined and finalized dewatering schemes) and administration offices. The site access road will be upgraded to provide secure access to all mining and processing areas throughout the year. Additional infrastructure required will include cooking and sleeping facilities at sites, waste facilities and a self sustained camp.  Apart from the stated components above, other items, including offices, accommodation for employees and sewer treatment facilities are not considered under the scope of this report. They will be subject to a different study when the feasibility is conducted on the appropriate designs and also sites for the infrastructures.
1.      The Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) will be located in the Zambezi escarpment. The area is prone to earthquakes and it is therefore risky to put up a TSF as the chances of failure are high. If the TSF was to fail, the impact would be significant and would extend to neighbouring countries.
2.      The mine is located about 30 km from the Mana Pools World Heritage Site in Zimbabwe. Any possible failure of TSF or abnormal discharge of effluent would affect negatively the World Heritage Site.
3.      The issue of Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) and consequently the metal leaching has not been addressed. The EIS states that level 112m to 116m contains material that has the potential to generate acid and yet no mitigation measures both in the short and long term have been outlined. The impact of ARD would be significant especially after the mine has been closed.
4.      The proposed site is not suitable for the nature of the project since it is located in the middle of a national park. The adverse impact of open pit mining would therefore permanently destroy the landscape of the Park, thereby reducing the tourism value of the Lower Zambezi National Park. Lower Zambezi National Park is one of the four major national parks according to the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) which earns the country a lot of money.
5.      The footprint of the mine would increase when the road is widened and the power line is constructed. The integrity of the national park will therefore be compromised and in the long term the ecological value would be affected.
6.      The estimate of mine life is not based on verifiable facts as the EIS is full of contradictions. The benefits from the mining operations may be for a very short period of time but the consequences may be far more reaching.
In July 2013 the Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Environment and Tourism for the Second Session of the Eleventh National Assembly of Zambia (September 2012 - July 2013) declared:
Ø  Your Committee recommends that the proposed mining project at Kangaluwi in the Lower Zambezi be rejected for the following reasons: (i) the mining license that Mwembeshi Resources holds was issued without following the requirements of the law and procedure and is invalid and should be revoked; (ii) there should be no mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park which should be reserved and preserved as a conservation area and heritage for purposes of tourism development; (iii) the Government should ensure that the issuance of mining licenses follows the legal and laid down procedures; further, the work of the inter-Ministerial Committee should be strengthened.
On 17 January 2014, Minister Harry Kalaba of Lands etc wrote to Chambeshi Resources - the Zambezi Resources subsidiary, informing them that he had upheld their appeal of 19 September 2012 against the ZEMA rejection of the mining. Minister Harry Kalaba made it clear that he accepted the word of the Australian miners that the 250 sq. km. mining operation with its four mines (two open-pit) and the daily removal of ore in massive trucks to the Copperbelt would provide employment, that technology could deal with the negative effects, and that wildlife management would be enhanced by the management scheme suggested in the appeal – a scheme not made available for public appraisal.  
This legal battle should not only address the Lower Zambezi National Park Mining scandal but to take advantage and highlight the other environmental challenges that Zambia`s natural environment and wildlife is faced with as a result of poor legislature and selfish leadership. Zambia`s wildlife, game reserves, national parks, minerals and natural resources are under siege sadly at the hands of our political leaders who take oath to protect and defend the latter.
I am still repeating my statement in the previous article; "I strongly believe that, Africa’s brightest economies at the moment are not being driven by this damaging mining practice (sector), but by food production e.g Kenya, Rwanda etc. We need a new approach, we can’t get wealthy at the expense of our environment and we still must live with the environment".
Zambia can still create thousands of Jobs in the Agriculture and Tourism Sector!!!
'STOP THE LOWER ZAMBEZI MINING - HEAVEN FOR WILDLIFE AND BIODIVERSITY'

Saturday, 25 January 2014

IN A TWIST OF PAINFUL INEVITABILITY: ZAMBIA TURNING INTO A NIGHTMARE


Elephants Crossing the Lower Zambezi

It was like a dream that turned to be true. You don’t need an environmental impact assessment to inform you that it’s wrong to mine in the middle of a National Park. Other than the obvious ecological negatives, It is a burgeoning tourism paradise with massive long term economic value; a spiritual home-land for thousands of Zambians and a heaven for wildlife and biodiversity. The Lower Zambezi has massive breeding herds of elephants, lion, leopard and large herds of buffalo roaming the floodplains. It’s just simply wrong to dig up a legally proclaimed conservation area and in a process to be considered as a World Heritage Site.  

Zambian politicians often talk about foreign companies as ‘investors’ in their country, and companies themselves present their presence in Zambia as a benevolent effort to create jobs, even at their own loss. This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Extractive industries come to Zambia to take advantage of low taxes and liberal policies which allow them to ruthlessly loot and exploit the natural resources, leaving behind corruption, environmental and social damage which their minimal tax contributions don’t come close to compensating.
In 2011, an Australian mining Zambezi Resource Limited had submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA). ZEMA is a Professional Institution full of experts that is mandated and entrusted by the Zambian Government to ensure the protection of our environment and our people. The response was as follows;
“The proposed site is not suitable for the nature of the project because it is located in the middle of a national park and thus intends to compromise the ecological value of the park as well as the ecosystem.”
Surprisingly, On 17 January 2014, the Zambian PF government through Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection overlooked the ZEMA position and advice despite a fully rejected EIA and gave full permission to Zambezi Resource Limited for an open cast copper mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park. What does this mean for Zambia? What are the benefits to the Zambian people? How many jobs will be created from this project? What is wrong with our government not to trust its own experts (ZEMA)???
The truth is, even if there were major benefits to ordinary Zambians of mining copper in the Lower Zambezi National Park, what is clear is that these benefits are not even close to being realized. Critically thinking; Large-scale open pit mining uses explosives and heavy earthmoving equipment nothing like as labour intensive as the proponents would like us to believe.
"There are very few benefits of mining in the Lower Zambezi National park that will trump the long term environmental, economic-from tourism, spiritual and cultural losses incurred over the next 25 years of large-scale open pit mining on the Zambezi escarpment."
I want to tell the Mining Companies and the Zambian government that, Not every Blank space you see on our map is "NEW COPPER PROVINCE" in Zambia, NO!! How can we justify bending the rules to this extent for the purpose of short-term gain for the few???? Does this Australian company have the right to apply financial muscle in Zambia and Africa? As a prospecting company, are they simply going to sell off the rights to a Chinese investor once the battle is won? Who takes responsibility for the damage at the end of it all? Where is a summary of the plan to mitigate damage?
I strongly believe that, Africa’s brightest economies at the moment are not being driven by this damaging mining practice, but by food production. We need a new approach, we can’t get wealthy at the expense of our environment and we still must live with the environment. I am calling upon all activist, advocates and negotiators at both National and International Level, to continue talking and signing petitions until the Zambian Patriotic Front Government Reverses the Endorsement of the Zambezi Resource Limited from mining in the Lower Zambezi and respect the advice of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) a professional institution full of experts that is mandated and entrusted by the Zambian Government to ensure the protection of our environment and our people.

'STOP THE LOWER ZAMBEZI MINING - HEAVEN FOR WILDLIFE AND BIODIVERSITY'