Home News Boterekwa Miner Defies EMA Directive on Surface Mining

Boterekwa Miner Defies EMA Directive on Surface Mining

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Crossing the Great Dyke at the famous Boterekwa near Shurugwi with twisting hairpin bends, one is struck with the breathtaking views and the beauty of the scenic landscape.

The road is often used by haulage trucks traveling to Zambia, DRC and Tanzania through Gweru from South Africa.

However, Great Dyke News 24 established that the place is now under threat due to land degradation by a new mining company Ansh Blue 4/8, owned by one Crispen Mahara in joint partnership with Chinese firm Chenjxi (Private) Limited, who are illegally engaging in open cast and surface mining activities there.

Sources told Great Dyke News 24 that Mahara partnered with Chenjxi to embark on open cast mining and vat leaching under the name Ansh Blue 4/8 North 2 and 3 project which is illegal.

Speaking to Great Dyke News 24, the Environmental Management Agency, Midlands spokesperson Oswald Ndlovu said he is only aware of Mahara’s operations through his company Ansh Blue adding that he will have to investigate the Chinese company.

“On the side of EMA, that activity was given an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate for shaft mining, meaning that for them to do any other mining activity is prohibited.

“As you know, it’s not only EMA who has the final say, there are other stakeholders who are consulted which includes the Ministry of Transport, and other stakeholders that put in their input.

“When those are considered a decision is made if they can be granted an EIA or not, as well as the community members around, are supposed to have a voice on the project. I know that we gave a certificate to Mahara and we are not aware if the Chinese have got enough papers or not?” he said.

Great Dyke News 24 however understands that the miner went on to expand the mining activities to include the components of open cast and vat leaching which is against the EIA regulations.

Commenting on this, mine owner Chrispen Mahara admitted that he partnered with a Chinese company for open cast mining. He said he was served with an EMA directive to stop open cast mining.

“It’s true, l was given an EIA for shaft mining, so l partnered with a Chinese company to do open cast mining but the Environmental Management Agency stopped me saying l should acquire an EIA for open cast mining.

“l was fined Zwl $400 000 for that, and l have stopped operating with the Chinese. They are now mining with madam Dhari (a local miner) here in Boterekwa and they pass through my mine so people are confusing it. Yes, we were doing leaching through open cast mining and it has been stopped. For now, I’m continuing with my shaft mining as usual,” he said.

Some nearby residents however revealed that the miner has defied the EIA directive to stop surface mining activities. They say they are worried about the land degradation taking place adding that they were not even consulted before the commencement of the project.

“Right now there is a very high percentage of land degradation without any compensation. We have come to know that these Chinese mining at Boterekwa have paid some money so that they can mine in that area under the protection of someone who was mining there so they are now a syndicate. They are mining right now as l am speaking.

“However, there is no benefit to the community and no measures are being put into place to protect the land. As you know the government recently proposed to rehabilitate that road by putting a dual lane, and what will then happen to the degraded land because these guys are drilling the mountain where the Boterekwa starts from.

“As Shurugwi residents, we are worried about the mining that is taking place in our area because we have never been called for a meeting or consulted about those activities,” said Chachacha ward 10 assistant headman Marvellous Madzivanyika.

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“Boterekwa is one of our legacies in Shurugwi, and watching it being destroyed by the Chinese pains us a lot. These guys are destroying our land whilst we are watching and we can’t do anything. May the authorities intervene because this is a hazard to our community.

” Boterekwa is our tourist attraction and it’s being destroyed for the love of money. Who is going to come and assist us ?” asked Spiwe Ndiwane a Shurugwi resident.

In a telephone interview, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development,  Edmond Mukaratigwa who is also the Shurugwi South Member of Parliament urged the miner to ensure that all the necessary procedures regarding EIA are followed.

“The mining activity is open and visible when you are moving up or down Boterekwa, and it is evidence of open cast mining. So we are hoping the Portfolio Committe on the Environment is watching in conjunction with EMA.

“As the Portfolio Committee, we call upon those involved to ensure that they have a plan for land reclamation and rehabilitation of the damaged environment as part and parcel of their instructive mining plans,” he said.

The Midlands Provincial Mining Director Tariro Ndlovu told Great Dyke News 24 that they are concerned with what is happening in the scenic area adding that the place is not proper for surface mining.

“l am very much concerned with what’s happening there, Boterekwa is one of the scenic areas although it’s not a classified monument. If you were to come back in four years’ time, you will find all that vegetation, flora, and fauna will no longer be there, it will be disappointing.

“The unfortunate part is when we give licenses to miners, we never look at what method of mining is going to be undertaken, that’s the dilemma that we are in as a ministry. The guy is a holder of mining titles, but we are realising that this is not what we want to see as a ministry.

“So we are busy trying to see how best we can resolve that issue, l have sent my inspector there. The miner is building a leaching pad, now the question is how safe is the community. If we receive high rainfall, those things will give in and the staff will end up in the rivers so it’s an issue of concern to me.

“An area like that should have been barred from surface mining from the beginning and if there was a provision for that, and now if someone is holding a license and he is saying you gave me the license, l can’t be told how l am going to do my mining and if it’s causing environmental degradation, then, by all means, it has to be stopped.

“l would want the Minister to see, he is coming here for the Minex exhibition so that he will see what we are going through in terms of that place,” he said.

The critical element of community monitoring is participating in the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) process. According to Section 97 of the Environmental Management Act (EMA) mining companies are required to undertake an EIA and apply for an EIA Certificate to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).

The EIA is a legal requirement in Zimbabwe in terms of the EMA Act (Chapter 20:27) as read with Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007. It’s a tool used to define, quantify and evaluate the potential and known impacts of human activities on ecosystems at the earliest stage of project development. It is a technical and administrative procedure whose objective is to identify potential impacts and prevent environmental deterioration generated by human activities.

The objectives of the EIA are to identify potential environmental impacts by human activities such that they can be avoided or mitigated. It also increases public awareness on the environmental effects of non-sustainable production practices. To improve the formulation of environmental policies and to monitor the health of ecosystems as a key element for decision-making in environmental management.

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