The Zambia Community Natural Resources Management Forum (ZCBNRM) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on behalf of over 100 natural resources and environmental organizations and individuals in Zambia have objected to the proposed mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
ZCBNRM and WWF objections come in the wake of the application by Mwembeshi Resources Limited to establish a Kangaluwi large scale Mining Project on Mining License 15547-HQ-LML in the Lower Zambezi National Park in the Luangwa District, Lusaka Province of Zambia and the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
ZCBRRM National Coordinator Vincent Ziba says ZCBNRM and its partners have observed that the EIA report submitted by GeoQuest Limited on behalf of Mwembishi Limited fails the professional and objectivity test as it does not highlight the socio-cultural and health costs the mining project will cause.
He said in a statement to the Watchdog that Zambia will lose more than gain if this mining project is allowed to proceed for a number of reasons.
He explained that allowing mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park will set a dangerous precedent where protected areas intended to preserve critical ecological processes and conserve biodiversity will be irreversibly damaged at the expense of the environment and the local community livelihoods.
‘While we appreciate the role of mining in economic development, we strongly feel that it should not be allowed in protected areas especially those ecologically delicate like the Lower Zambezi national park which have been identified under local and international protocols and conventions as being of great cultural, heritage and environmental value’, said Ziba.
‘Apart from failure to elaborate on the negative impacts of such an investment on the health of local communities, the EIA fails to acknowledge the presence of rare and endangered species of national importance such as the African elephant, the African Wild dog including several bird and tree species found in the area. 2
‘The mining project which is intended to mine copper in an area with high levels of radon emissions, a radioactive gas from uranium, does not only pose a health hazard to local people including their livestock but to the entire ecosystem including freshwater life of the rivers in the lower Zambezi,’ Ziba said.
He further said that the fact that the copper ore from Lower Zambezi national Park in Luangwa will be transported to the Copperbelt for processing makes this project a ‘health hazard to all the people along the way, not to mention the increased road carnage, air pollution and accelerated damage to the roads it will bring.’
‘The contamination and pollution of ground water and surface waters as well as riparian areas of rivers such as the Luangwa, Kafue and Zambezi which local people depend on for domestic consumption, their cattle, agriculture and fish as a result of mining activities presents a serious threat to community livelihoods. The problem is further compounded to a regional scale as it will affect the entire ecosystem and health of communities located downstream and upstream in the neighboring countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Botswana and Malawi who all depend on this shared watercourse of the Zambezi river.
‘After studying the EIA, ZCBNRM and its partners have also observed that two of the authors of the EIA are from government statutory bodies. This is clearly unethical and puts Government as the regulator in a compromised position.
ZCBNRM, WWF and their partners called on local communities and all stakeholders concerned about this ‘development’ to join this noble cause by opposing the mining project saying posterity and the future generations shall judge us harshly if it is allowed to go ahead.
The two organisations also appealed to the PF Government to uphold its commitment to supporting sustainable natural resource management by safeguarding environmentally sensitive areas like national parks from destructive economic activities.