ZEMA raises concern over proposed copper project:
By Gift Chanda and Kabanda Chulu
ZEMA yesterday rejected the environmental impact assessment submissions for the proposed US$494 million Kangaluwi copper project that was projected to be established in 2015 in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Zambezi Resources, which is a Bermuda-registered and Australian securities-listed company, had projected to commence copper production in 2015 at its Kangaluwi project located near Luangwa district.
The Kangaluqi project’s mine life was estimated to be in excess of 25 years while the decommissioning and closure cost of the project was estimated at US$260,000.
However, Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) spokesperson Irene Chipili yesterday said the project has been rejected, citing various environmental concerns.
“The Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) will be located in the Zambezi escarpment. The area is prone to earthquakes and it is therefore risky to put up a TSF as the chances of failure are high. If the TSF was to fail, the impact would be significant and would extend to neighboring countries,” Chipili said. “The mine is located about 30 km from the Mana Pools world heritage site in Zimbabwe. Any possible failure of TSF or abnormal discharge of effluent would negatively affect the World Heritage site.”
She said the issue of Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) and metal leaching has not been addressed.
“The environmental impact statement (EIS) which was submitted states that levels 112 meters to 116 meters contain material that has the potential to generate acid and yet no mitigation measures both in the short and long term have been outlined. The impact of ARD would be significant especially after the mine has been closed,” Chipili said. “The proposed site is not suitable for the nature of the project since it is located in the middle of a national park and the adverse impact of open pit mining would therefore permanently destroy the landscape of the Park, thereby reducing the tourism value of the Lower Zambezi National Park, which is one of the four major national parks in the country.”
She said the footprint of the mine would increase when the road is widened and the power line is constructed.
“The integrity of the national park will therefore be compromised and in the long term the ecological value would be affected,” said Chipili. “The estimate of mine life is not based on verifiable facts as the EIS is full of contradictions and the benefits from the mining operations may be for a very short period of time but the consequences may be far more reaching.”
Recently, environmental activists, including the Earth Organisation, advised the government to thoroughly analyse the impact of mining on the environment and wildlife as a result of the proposed Kangaluwi copper project.