Monday, March 18th, 2013
Civil society objects to mining project in Lower Zambezi
By: Kabanda Chulu
Construction of a mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park should not take place because the developers have not demonstrated technical and institutional capacity to meet Zambian environmental regulations, says the civil society.
Giving an update on the proposed mining activities in the Lower Zambezi national park, Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) representative David Ngwenyama said the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted by Zambezi Resources failed to meet the minimum technical standards for a project of the magnitude proposed.
He said according to the EIS, the developer would transport all the copper concentrates from the mine site to smelters on the Copperbelt.
“The developer proposes moving 160 tonnes of concentrates per day using 6×30 tonne trucks. This is likely to lead increased pressure on and damage to roads. In addition, this has a very high risk of hazard waste spillage and increases accident risks throughout the transportation route,” Ngwenyama said. “Proceeding with the project may lead to severe impacts on the country’s economy since it is more likely to lead to significant costs and no significant benefits.”
He said the poor quality of the EIS showed a lack of preparedness, seriousness and professional competence by the developer.
“The EIS lacks clarity on basic issues such as the life of the proposed mine and fails to provide comprehensive analysis of projected impacts of the mine as well as fails to provide a necessary environmental management plan,” Ngwenyama said, adding that the project would conflict the provisions of several regional, bilateral and multilateral agreements including SADC protocols on shared water courses, forestry, tourism, wildlife and UNESCO world heritage sites.
In September 2012, Zambia Environmental Management (ZEMA) rejected the copper mining project citing various environmental concerns.
But the developers appealed to environment minister Wilbur Simuusa for possible consideration.
Since then, Simuusa has not yet made a decision on whether to endorse the ZEMA position or reject it to allow mining to go ahead.