MAGWEGWE legislator Anele Ndebele on Wednesday grilled Mines minister Winstone Chitando in the National Assembly for allowing Liberation Coal Mine to extract coal near the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, saying this has the potential of polluting the dam through acid spillage.
Chitando said the proposed coal mining by Liberation Coal Mine in the Gwayi area will be on a 16 000-hectare concession, adding that it was true that one area of the concession was close to the dam.
“What has happened is that there has been an evaluation by the Environmental Management Agency and interrogation of the mining plan,” he said.
“In the interim for the commencement of operations, the pit which has been designed is designed at the furthest point in the 16 000 hectares which will not interfere with the dam,” he said.
He said as the pit is developed, there will be a comprehensive environmental and mining plan to ensure that there are not effects on the dam.
Ndebele demanded that the Mines minister and his Environment and Water counterpart Oppah Muchinguri should interrogate the issue and present ministerial statements in the House detailing how they were going to protect the Gwayi-Shangani Dam as mining commences.
“I do not need to underline the importance of that dam to the people of Matabeleland, Midlands as well as Bulawayo. I, therefore, implore the minister to bring for interrogation in this House a ministerial statement because part of that mine is certainly going to be under that dam and acid cannot be prevented from spilling into the dam. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) does not have the expertise or the technology to monitor attempts at mitigating such spillage,” he said.
Chitando said any further mining beyond the pit has been designed to be backed by a comprehensive environmental management plan.