GOVERNMENT has directed mining companies conducting operations along river banks to immediately stop their activities to protect the environment.
During the recently held Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual congress, stakeholders expressed concern over some companies, mostly foreign–owned, that were involved in mining along river banks resulting in land degradation.
Responding to concerns raised by the stakeholders, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said his ministry and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate had directed firms to cease operations along rivers. “We have directed permanent secretaries in my ministry and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate to immediately stop mining operations that are taking place along river banks.
“Recently, it has come to our attention that there is a company that is mining alluvial gold along Mazoe River and we have since directed that the company must immediately stop operations,” he said.
He said Government would monitor the activities of mining firms to ensure their operations did not negatively impact the environment. “We know there is gold but we also need to preserve the environment. We are also saying where and how did they get the power to mine along river banks.”
Speaking by telephone yesterday, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) spokesperson Mr Steady Kangata said last week they carried out a joint operation with the police evicting 16 companies that were operating along Mazoe River. “We have stopped their operations because their activities were causing land degradation and environmental pollution in the river. The sites were also not conducive for mining,” he said.
He said the firms started their operations having been issued with special grants by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. “Those companies had just special grants from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and yet in terms of the Environmental Management Act, they are supposed to do an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before they start operations.