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Govt urged to revist policies

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An environmental group in Mutoko has called for government to revisit its policies on beneficiation of communities in mining areas as Mutoko was still heavily affected by granite rubble 50 years after multinational companies started mining granite in the area.

In an interview on the sidelines of the African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society workshop recently in Harare, a project manager with an environmental group, Budja Environmental Conservation Trust, Dolorosa Mubvumbi, said the rubble was so severe it deprived the community of farm land.

“The massive extraction of granite started in Mutoko in the early 1970s and it is government that gave the multinational companies mining claims without the involvement of traditional leaders and the community,” said Mubvumbi.

“Before 1986 the community knew granite as a natural resource, but the Mines and Minerals Act was changed and now granite is defined as a mineral, leaving multinational companies from Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Chinese making huge profits out of the granite resources while the community does not benefit anything.”

She said as a result of the massive mining of granite, the area posed serious health hazards for the community as there was a lot of dust and the miners had for 40 years now left deep holes.

Mubvumbi said the Mutoko community wanted government to compel the mining companies to plough back to the community as they had their mountains destroyed, as well as their sacred places disappearing due to the granite-mining activities by the multinational companies.

According to a report by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, about 98% of the black granite mined in Mutoko is exported to Italy, South Africa, Germany, Spain and other countries while locally, some of the granite was used for tombstones.

“In 2009, Mutoko District produced about 121 000 metric tonnes of black granite worth $12, 1 million and yet the mines were only prepared to pay a paltry $18 400 to the district council in levies,” said the ZELA report.

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