A Lusaka Times article of 28th February 2021 has reported that the courts of Zambia have given the green light to the development of an Open Cast Copper Mine inside the Lower Zambezi National Park.

The Lusaka Times article stated – The Court of Appeals of Zambia has dismissed an Appeal to stop the proposed Large Scale Open-pit Mine in Lower Zambezi National Park, upholding the High Court’s decision to dismiss the case for Want of Prosecution.

The Decision by the Court of Appeals sitting in Ndola effectively ends any challenges to Mwembeshi Resources’ proposal to open a Large Scale Open-pit Copper mine at the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park.

In a Judgement delivered by Justice Ngulube on behalf of the three panel Appeals Court bench, the Court ruled that the Appellant had 5 years and had been given numerous opportunities to rectify errors in the Appeal before the High Court but was lax and failed to do so until a change of legal representation in 2019.Read the full from the Lusaka Times article here 

According to a Daily Maverick Article published in 2019 by Sharon Gilbert – Rivett – The company Mwembeshi Resources has now been sold to a new company by the name of Grand Resources LTD – Registered in Dubai. The Daily Maverick also reported that the Zambian Authority organisation Zambian Environmental Management Agency has previously Rejected the project on the basis of a produced EIS.

See the Daily Maverick Article Here

Zimbabwe Civil Society Objected to this mine in 2014 – mainly on the basis that the development would seriously impact the pristine nature of the Zambezi Valley not just in Zambia but also in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

A Zimbabwe civil society group put together an objection to the proposed Copper Mine and working together with the Zambezi Society published the following comments as part of a larger press release (See Here Full Zam Soc Press Release from 2014) in 2014.

Our Apologies – this article previously mentioned that a delegation visited Zambia to meet with authorities – we have been advised that this did NOT happen. 

Part of the Objection by Zim Society Stated – “Apart from impacts within the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, this proposed mine would bring high, long-term risks to the health and well-being of communities, wildlife and environment in Zimbabwe (and Mozambique) • The scenic, wilderness values of the Zambezi Valley (which have been the base of 50+ years of tourism development in this area on both sides of the river) would be reduced by visual and sound impacts from the mine and associated road infrastructure, spoiling the tourism experience. • Pollution of ground and surface water by the mine could result in run-off into the Zambezi River, to the detriment of areas and populations downstream, including Zimbabwe’s World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve and Lake Cabora Bassa. • An increased human population into the area from mine and road development will increase human-wildlife conflict situations. Stressed animals are not confined by international boundaries. • More people in the area will increase wildlife poaching/snaring which is already a cross-boundary problem. • The position of the mine will block the movement of animals such as wild dog and elephant along the corridor between the Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa National Parks, forcing them into settled lands (increased conflict) or into Zimbabwe or Mozambique. • All these above impacts would prejudice the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve status that Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley areas currently enjoy, leading to a loss of almost 50 years of investment towards their ecological integrity. It would also destroy any chance of Zambia succeeding in its bid to achieve similar world recognition for the Lower Zambezi National Park. • The envisaged life span of the project is about one decade, so the envisaged benefits to the Zambian people are short lived. However, the likely environmental damage to the whole trans-frontier area would be long lasting. This is economically and developmentally irresponsible for the region.”

Map showing the mine site. Credit Zambezi Resources. (Image: supplied)

A South African Based organisation also weighed in – In March 2020 THE Southern Africa Resource Watch appealed for an advanced political intervention in the matter where a mining project is about to start in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Read the full article here

Lange from SABW commented – “On October 17, Lusaka High Court judge Charles Chanda ruled that the appeal challenging the decision of Kalaba to allow Mwembeshi Resources to produce copper within the national park was incompetently before court as no record of appeal was filed.

This means Mwembeshi Resources Limited is now free to start its mining activities in the Zambezi Lower National Park.

Lange said: “we cannot blame the court”

“There is need for political intervention in the matter to protect the environment, even wildlife that is going to be disturbed in the Lower Zambezi by establishing a mine there,” Lange said.

“We appreciate that we have a law, regarding the protection and management of the environment, which law as an institution we believe is very weak. The law has highly been politicised and it is because of the politics around this law that we are appealing for political will to prevail.”

Proposed mine layout. (Image: supplied)

Nchanga Open Cast Copper Mine Near Chingola

A petition was started by Zambian Timothy Langa to object to this development – Find it at this Link

VF24 – Editor 5