THE Environment Management Authority (EMA) board has ordered a stop to all mining activities along the Umzingwane River to reduce water pollution and environmental degradation.
Report by Nqobile Bhebhe
A Chinese company Tapin Private Limited is accused of causing most of the damage and the board was on Tuesday shown countless huge gaping holes some of them about 20 metres deep caused by their operations.
Speaking at a media briefing after a weeklong tour of Midlands and Matabeleland regions chairman Sheunesu Mpepereki said they would make sure that no mining operation took place until current land degradation was addressed.
“EMA has already ordered a stop to that (to Tapin Private Limited) and ordered that there should be rehabilitation where the said company should come back with equipment and close the gaping holes and open up the river system,” he said.
“The company has agreed to rehabilitate the land and the local authority (Umzingwane Rural District Council) whom we interacted with has indicated that they would be working with the company to see to it that there is real rehabilitation.”
However, Mpepereki revealed that it had come to their attention the Chinese’s firm had been granted a mining licence in the same area.
“But no mining would be done until there is as full environmental impact assessment,” he said.
The board said it supported development done in a sustainable way and guided by environmental laws of Zimbabwe.
“We therefore urge all stake holders to comply with environmental laws of the country,” Mpepereki said.
There is growing concern that some mining firms embark on operations without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) certificate.
On the coal mining activities along Gwayi catchment area, Mpeperiki said there was no evidence of mining yet.
“For now one mining firm is still working on EIA and it is still to come to us,” he said.
“When we went there, there was no mining activity taking place save for exploration.”
As part of recommendation after the tour, EMA said all prescribed operations being conducted without EIAs should stop and EIAs be produced expeditiously to regularise the development.
“All operations should undertake progressive rehabilitation according to their approved environmental management plans and all communities and local authorities must prepare local environmental action plans to safeguard their environment and livelihoods,” Mpepereki said.