Court allows Australian miner to turn Lower Zambezi National Park into open pit

Court allows Australian miner to turn Lower Zambezi National Park into open pit

The Lusaka High Court has has finally bowed to pressure and lifted the stay of execution granted against the opening of a mining project in the lower Zambezi national park.

This means that the Kangaluwi mining project owned by Zambezi Resources of Australia will now start turning the Lower Zambezi national park into an open pit mine.

Six environmental organisations took the government to court for allowing a huge open pit mine in the lower Zambezi because it posed a danger to wild and human life as well as to the environment.

On April 4, 2014, Judge Mubanga Kondolo temporally stopped the mining saying that the damage to the environment that the project would cause was a matter of public concern and interest which affects all people born and unborn.

Mr Justice Kondolo said that if he lifted the stay of execution which was granted to the organisations on February 18, 2014, their appeal against the ministry of Mines, to allow the commencement of large scale mining in the national park would become nugatory (of no value) and rendered academic.
He said that it would be rendered a mere academic exercise because the project entailed large scale mining which might seriously deface or otherwise affect the environment.
Mr Justice Kondolo said there was no need for the organisations to specify or prove exactly how they were affected by the project as was argued by attorney general Mumba Malila because the consequences of damage could affect anyone.
“I shall not pronounce myself on the rest of the arguments of the parties save to state that a damage to the environment is a matter of public concern and interest which affects all people born and unborn.
For this reason I find that the appellants do not need to specify or prove exactly how they are affected by the subject project” Mr Justice Kondolo said.

But now, the court had removed the stay.

One activists Sharon Gilbert-Rivett reacted as follows:

The High Court of Zambia has ruled that the controversial Kangaluwi open-cast copper mine project will go ahead in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National park, dismissing the appeal against the mine on a legal technicality because the initial legal team that fought the case five years ago failed to file a record of appeal. Read the High Court’s ruling here.

The news is already sending shock waves throughout the Zambian and regional tourism community. The Lower Zambezi National Park is one of tourism’s major economic contributors and the lodges in and around the park employ hundreds of local people, supporting thousands more in the communities on its periphery. The mine threatens this thriving tourism economy and the livelihoods of everyone involved in tourism in the Lower Zambezi Valley. It also threatens to derail Zambia’s recently unveiled tourism growth strategy which hinges on the country’s commitment to protecting its wilderness areas.

Klaserie Sands River Camp
The Lower Zambezi National Park sits directly opposite Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The site of the mine is between two seasonal rivers which flow directly into the Zambezi River. Its tailings dams will be located just a few hundred metres above the valley floor, next to these rivers. The risk of pollution and collateral damage to the environment is high, as is the impact the mine will have on the wildlife in the area.

The licence for the mine is held by Mwembeshi Resources Ltd, but it is still unclear where its owners, Grand Resources Ltd, are based. They are registered in Dubai but suspicions are rife that they are Chinese owned. Unless an appeal is lodged quickly, the mine company will move onto the site and begin the work of clearing it.

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