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Pools - Chewore: Heavy mineral sands mining exploration in the rivers
December 03, 2012
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Society is delighted to report that the Zimbabwe National Commission
of UNESCO, which is responsible for overseeing matters of relevance
to the country's World Heritage properties, has taken seriously
the concerns about mining exploration within the Mana Pools/Sapi/Chewore
World Heritage Site brought to its attention by the Zambezi Society.
Earlier this year, UNESCO and a group of government stakeholders
undertook a site visit to Mana Pools. This was followed by high
level detailed consultations with technical and legal advisors in
the public and private sectors. As a result of its findings, UNESCO
Zimbabwe has advised the World Heritage Centre in Paris that it
strongly "discourages mining or mineral exploration in the
World Heritage property and its immediate environs" and that
the mining project on the Ruckomechi and Chewore rivers will not
be allowed. It states that such a project "negatively impacts
on the Outstanding Universal Values of the World Heritage Site"
and that mining activities would "jeopardise all conservation
initiatives within the Park".
If the project proponents ignore the recommendations of UNESCO,
Zimbabwe will be faced with a situation where UNESCO may withdraw
World Heritage Site status for the Mana Pools-Sapi-Chewore area
and place the property on the "Sites in Danger" list.
Tourism Authority briefed
In the meantime
the Zambezi Society has met with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
to brief them on this issue and our concerns about it. The ZTA is
preparing for Zimbabwe to co-host with Zambia the next meeting of
the United Nation's World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in
Victoria Falls in August 2013.
gone ominously quiet since the stakeholders meeting held on 31 August
2012 by the proponents of this mining exploration project (Habbard
Investments) and the consultants appointed to undertake an Environmental
Impact Assessment (EIA), (Impaco). Impaco promised to arrange an
interview with the Zambezi Society soon after this workshop but,
in spite of our prompting this has not materialised. A further attempt
to arrange a meeting was made recently- this seems to have
failed. It is with disappointment that we note that due process
is not being followed. Stakeholders were criticised by the proponents
for talking about this issue in the public domain. Sadly this "closed
door" approach leaves stakeholders with few alternatives.
details about possible mining processes
Society has been finding out more about what heavy minerals sands
mining might involve. We stress that the current EIA process is
seeking permission only to EXPLORE, not to mine. However, the next
logical step would be for the proponents to apply for a mining EIA.
Two potential mining methods are possible. Both would unavoidably
have adverse impacts on the river and its environs. The most likely
mining method (Dry Mining) would be highly destructive. For more
detail, on possible mining methods and their implications, please
see the PDF file attached to this newsletter:- Heavy Mineral Sand
reading of the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Act shows
that the Mines and Minerals Act does NOT (as is often thought) supercede
all other Acts of Parliament (and effectively give mining a free
rein). The ultimate responsibility of allowing mining operations
within a National Park lies with Zimbabwe's Minister of Environment
or the President. This raises interesting potential for recourse
to the law should the necessity arise in defending Mana Pools &
Chewore from mining activities. However, this would be an expensive
exercise for which the Zambezi Society will require substantial
If you are in
a position to help, we would like to hear from you.
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