‘No mining in Mana Pools’ Zim Environ Minister declares

– Our policy as a government is very clear that in our protected areas, we do not do mining exploration, Environment Minister Ndlovu said.

John Cassim

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwean Environment Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu has declared, there will be no mining in Mana Pools.

Ndlovu made the declaration Friday, in the capital Harare, on the sidelines of a signing ceremony of an MoU between Zambia and Zimbabwe, on the development of the Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area (LOZAMAP TFCA).

“Indeed, we had an expression of interest which by procedure people have to put in their comments.

Our policy as a government is very clear that in our protected areas, we do not do mining exploration, better still in a place like Mana Pools, which is a UNESCO protected site.”

“It is a ramsar wetland of international importance, we guard it jealously and I can assure the viewers and everyone that our policy as a government is that we protect our protected areas,” Minister Ndlovu said.  

– mining in Mana Pools

There was a loud outcry early this Month when a government gazette of April 28 said little known, Shalom Mining Corporation, had applied to prospect in an area covering 130 000 hectares, which includes parts of Mana Pools and also stretches to the Zambian border.

“It is hereby notified, that in terms of section 87 (4) of the Mines and Minerals Act, that Shalom Mining Corporation has applied to the Mining Affairs Board for an exclusive prospecting order, over an area described in the schedule, in the Mashonaland West mining district,” 

“The applicant intends to prospect for petroleum oil and gas within the area which has been reserved against prospecting pending determination of this application. Prospecting authority is sought upon registered base mineral blocks within the reservation,” the Gazette announced.

This notice was condemned with some saying this was the best time the serenity of Zimbabwe’s world-famous Mana Pools was protected. 

Some conservationists even signed petitions to that effect.

According to researchers, the UNESCO World heritage site hosts an estimated 12,500 elephants, 3000 hippopotamus, more than 260 lions, cheetahs and wild dogs.

– legal position

The Zimbabwean government banned mining in any national park even though the country’s law still gives room for such explorations to take place under the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, which is still under consideration.

Following yet another public outcry in 2020, Afrochine Energy and the Zimbabwe Zhongxin Coal Mining Group, had their mining concessions cancelled inside Hwange National Park.

On one hand Section 35 of the Mines Act, allows the government to protect certain areas from prospecting and pegging. 

However, the Mines Act gets precedence over other laws, such as the Water Act or the Environmental Management Act, leaving many sanctuaries vulnerable.

According to NewZWire, an online publication, in recent years, countries in the region have grappled to contain increased mining interests.

In 2019, Zambia had to reverse a plan by Australia’s Mwembeshi Resources to build a copper plant in the Lower Zambezi National Park. 

In Mozambique, the 350 000-hectare Magoe Park is surrounded by coal mines.

Tanzania downsized its Selous Game Reserve by 60% to make way for uranium mining. 

In South Africa, about two-dozen prospecting licences have been granted to coal prospectors on the rim of the Mapungubwe National Park, a UNESCO heritage site.

In Botswana, energy companies such as Sasol have been allowed to explore for natural gas in the Central Kalahari, Kgalagadi and Chobe parks.

Meanwhile Chief Chundu, whose area of jurisdiction covers Mana Pools, expressed concern.

“We urge the mining authorities to liaise with traditional leaders each time there are some mining explorations that would have been earmarked to take place in our areas of jurisdiction.

We end up having a situation whereby these mining companies would come to explore and get nothing as our ancestral spirits would have not been consulted,” Chief Chundu told Conservezim.

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