The Zambian Parliamentary Committee on Lands, Environment and Tourism recently rejected the proposed open-cast copper mine that is planned in the Lower Zambezi National Park. This comes after the mining project was already rejected by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency in August last year.
According to a special report by the Committee on Lands, Environment and Tourism on the proposed Kangaluwi mining project in the national park, the mining licence that Mwembeshi Resources holds was issued without following the requirements of the law and procedures.
It stated that Mwembeshi Resources was issued with a minimal (prospecting) mining licence by the ministry responsible for mines prior to it undertaking an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
“The issue of prospecting does not necessarily mean that a mining licence will be given. The licence is invalid and should be revoked. There should be no mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park which should be reserved and preserved as a conservation area and heritage for purposes of tourism development,” it stated. “The government should ensure that the issuance of mining licences follows the legal and laid down procedures and the work of the inter-ministerial committee should be strengthened.”
|Fast facts about Lower Zambezi National Park:|
|Declared a national park||1983|
|Area of the park||4092 sq.km|
|Location||Lies opposite Mana Pools Reserve in Zimbabwe|
Environment minister Wylbur Simuusa says the government is taking a cautious approach to sanctioning economic projects that are located within game management areas.
According to Ian Manning, a chartered environmental and wildlife biologist, the reluctance by the government to make a decision is linked to the UNWTO conference that will be held in August this year. He told Tourism Update: “The Patriotic Front government will not make a decision because of the forthcoming UNWTO General Assembly due to start on 23 August at Victoria Falls. Clearly they wish to pass the Environmental Impact Status so that they can trouser the funds available.”
Tourism industry players have opposed the copper mine as they say it would have a major impact on tourism to the area. Grant Cummings, Owner of Chiawa Camp in the Lower Zambezi, explains: “I believe the habitat of the Lower Zambezi National Park would be compromised, which would reduce the quality of the tourism experience in such a way that tourists would surely seek greener pastures.”
Cummings adds that many tourists who visit Zambia genuinely care about the environment and the wilderness. “If the authorities were to permit mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park, this would send out a worrying message to the international tourism community that Zambia doesn’t really care about sustainable practices and protecting its natural resources, which may discourage tourists from visiting the country.”
Last year, Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) rejected mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park, citing environmental concerns but Mwembeshi Resources appealed to environmental protection minister Wilbur Simuusa, who has since generated a cab memo.
Date: 16 August 2013