Riverbed mining remains banned, but government has given the greenlight for mining to take place along Angwa and Save rivers, Environment minister Mangaliso Ndlovu has revealed.
BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Ndlovu made the disclosure while responding to questions during Wednesday’s question-and-answer session in Parliament.
He was responding to a question on the steps taken by government in response to a Cabinet decision to ban all mining activities in national parks and along rivers.
“I might want to add that in banning riverbank mining, it was resolved that because our rivers are not mature enough to sustain riverbank mining, only two will be considered,” Ndlovu said.
“When they are able to satisfy both the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and Environmental Management Agency that they can do so sustainably, these two rivers are Angwa and Save.”
He added: “Currently, the cancellation of the special grants is within the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development while from an environmental perspective, we are waiting for the gazetting of the statutory instrument which will effect the banning of mining. We have, however, from the pronunciation of the policy moved in to stop mining in most of our rivers, should there be any mining or evidence that there is mining taking place.”
Last month, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa at a post-Cabinet Press briefing said government had revoked all titles issued by the Mines ministry to mine in protected areas such as national parks as well as along rivers.
Ndlovu said illegal miners should be apprehended, adding that the government was concerned over the environmental degradation caused by mining activities.
“The intention of the Environmental Management Act was that there be an Environmental Fund which is in the Act, but is yet to be effected which would then have assisted in mobilising resources for this purpose,” he said.
Ndlovu said Cabinet resolved that there should be orderly mining, where all mines henceforth would be required to submit the Environment Impact Assessment report. The process of mining that they will undertake will then entail them to get the authority to continue mining.
This will enable both EMA and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to continue monitoring the impact of mining operations.
“We have appealed for support through the Treasury — the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry that we be availed with resources for continuous assessment and monitoring of mining activities because we have realised that there are legacy issues in environmental concerns where we have to continuously rehabilitate,” he said.
“I want to acknowledge that there has been degradation as a result of mining — both legal and illegal, but through the processes of EIA, we are ensuring that compliance is maintained,”
Ndlovu told Parliament that a statutory instrument that would be gazetted to support the government policy pronouncements will speak to riverbed mining having been banned and the technical processes of desilting rivers.