By Edward Mukaro
MINING within National Parks is detrimental to wildlife conservation and poses an ecological disaster, that may obliterate the country’s tourism sector, the Centre for Natural Resource Governance has said.
CNRG’s statement comes hard on the heels of Government’s announcement that banned all mining activities in national parks after environmental conservationists rang the alarm bells on foreign-owned mining companies that were carrying out activities in Hwange national park.
Government’s response was swift, with Cabinet stating that ‘…mining activities on areas held by national parks is banned wit immediate effect. Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining title held in national parks.
However, of the reported two national parks mining cases, allegedly being carried out by Chinese firms, CNRG has noted with concern that the situation has deteriorated at an alarming rate as there are a further 4 firms carrying out mining activities in national parks.
“CNRG has established that there are more companies holding mining titles in the National Parks. These include Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation in Hwange National Park – Sinamatela area, Zimbabwe Diamond Mining Company and Rusununguko Private Limited in Chimanimani National Park, Lagerty Investments in Chizarira National Park.
There is also a yet to be ascertained company that is already mining gold at Umfurudzi Park. We pray that all these mining titles and others which are unknown to the public will indeed be cancelled.”
The natural resource conservation body also expressed concern that the ‘so-called mining companies’ operating in national could be even conducting worse activities than feared.
“There is a huge danger that some of the so-called mining companies applying to mine in national parks are organized crime syndicates seeking to abuse mining licenses in order to conduct poaching.
“Poaching and illegal trade in animals and animal parts, and illegal trophy hunting are on the rise in Zimbabwe.
CNRG further commended the Government of Zimbabwe for banning all mining activities in areas held by national parks and undertaking to cancel all mining titles held there.
Government also introduced new measures which will see all riverbed alluvial and riverbed mining on rivers being deemed illegal, except on the Save and Angwa rivers where desiltation will allow under very strict conditions.
By Edward Mukaro