Chinese Mines In Zim Face Closure

The companies face charges of violating the country’s mining and environmental laws.

The companies, San He Mining Company Private Limited Zimbabwe and Lebbenon Investments, started mining in the area in 2004.

A source at the Environment Authority of Zimbabwe told Radio VOP that the Chinese owners had already been fined US$5000 for operating without an EIA but had not paid it raising eyebrows as to who might be backing them.

“They were issued with a fine and ordered to stop operations until an impact assessment is done but they have largely ignored the both the fine and the order,” said the source who asked for anonymity.

“The issue has largely been ignored and one of our officers receive d a phone call in which he was told not to hate the Chinese.”

The Minister of Environment Francis Mhema told Radio VOP that his ministry had already ordered the companies to stop mining.

“We have stopped them, we had not authorised any EIA. They must go out forthwith because that area is our pristine land,” said Nhema.

The Chinese companies are also said to be preparing to mine into the protected Mavuradona Wilderness Conservancy.

“A snapshot of the area shows that no EIA was ever done before mining could take place because of the haphazard manner in which the mining activities are taking place.”

Several dusty roads have been developed and huge open holes, dust, heavy caterpillars and heavy duty trucks are now part of the landscape in this area.

Some villagers have since abandoned their homesteads because the roads, which the trucks use were built right next to their homesteads.

The villagers siad they could not live with the heavy dust that came from the open cast mines that had since mushroomed everywhere in the area.

The mining is heavily concentrated at the Penrose Farm and near Tengenenge Arts Community Centre threatening its survival and those of the 200 artists and their families based there.

Mavhuradona Wilderness is a vast area of pristine land surrounded by mineral rich mountains and wild animals such as elephants, lions, cheetah, buffalo, giraffes and kudus.
The area is also regarded as the breeding area for wild animals that can be found in the Zambezi Valley.

It is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Resources legislation. It was gazetted in the 1980s as a national park and botanical reserve. The area measures about 600 square kilometres and houses the important eco-systems of the Great Dyke and its special species.

Among some of the special features of this vast pristine land are the numerous hot springs – now under threat – which provide water to the surrounding communities and their livestock.
Apart from this, the area is also one of the few in the SADC region still having special species of Raphia plants.

There are no roads in the area, one has to walk or ride horses to be able to go on a safari. Conservationists in the area have over the years been working to have the place accorded World Heritage Status by the United Nations. But sources say the mining operations of the Chinese have since diluted the natural being of the area.