Maphisa residents fret over dam pollution

There is an outcry from locals that the environmental impact assessment and stakeholder consultations were not properly done.

MAPHISA residents have petitioned the Matobo Rural District Council, Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Lands, Water and Agriculture ministry raising fears of possible poisoning of their water bodies by a miner.

This follows the setting up of a carbon in pulp (CIP) plant by Nyamazane Gold Private Limited.

The firm owns the CIP plant in Maphisa which is located a few metres from the Antelope Dam, which provides water to Maphisa Township residents, Mahetshe community and the  Agricultural and Rural Development Authority.

There is an outcry from locals that the environmental impact assessment and stakeholder consultations were not properly done.

“We strongly believe that the environmental assessment was done without proper consultations with relevant stakeholders including the community which benefits from the dam,” the petition by the Maphisa Residents Association reads in part.

 “The issue of taking things for granted in the context of saying the situation is under control is neither here nor there as it is believed that the district has no capacity for testing chemical content.”

The residents said this posed a threat to their livestock and aquatic life.

“Furthermore, the dam capacity is in serious danger of being reduced through siltation as a result,” the petition says.

“The impact of not addressing this has long destructive effects on livelihoods of the entire population (people, livestock, and all organisms in the dam and downstream) which depends on the dam.”

The CIP plant was built near the bank of the dam causing possible hazard of water contamination by chemicals like cyanide.

Lands, Agriculture and Water deputy minister Davis Marapira recently visited the site following the outcry by the locals.

Marapira was said to have been disappointed that a development of that nature was approved, putting  the lives of residents who rely on the dam in danger.

Marapira could not be reached for comment.

A metallurgist, who preferred to be anonymous, said the permissible distance of a CIP from a dam is at least five kilometres.   

“There are traces of contaminated water from used , which the EMA provincial manager prefers to underpay at the peril of local residents,” said the metallurgist.

He said there are visible traces of caustic soda at the bank of the dam.

Caustic soda is used in the treatment of mining dumps.

One resident from Mafuyana Township said the justification that the dam was constructed in a mining claim is irrational.

“Where are we going as a country if we can’t control our mining and mineral extraction activities?,” the resident said.

“First it was mining in sacred shrines, now it’s in dams that benefit the community.”

Some residents said the type of mining at Falcon is tantamount to the “zamazamas” type of mining which is being done in disused mines in Johannesburg.

A Zanu PF  legislator from the Midlands is reportedly a Nyamazane Gold Pvt Ltd proxy.

No comment could be obtained from the miner.

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