By Tafirenyika Nemadire
Marange, November 19, 2013 – Diamond mining companies here are under fire from traditional leaders who are demanding compensation for the death of close to a herd of 300 cattle owing to chemicals which are used to purify gems.
The companies which are being accused of harming the environment include Anjin, Mbada and Marange Resources which were recently granted mining permits by the government to mine diamonds in the area.
“We reported the cases of the deaths of our domestic animals to the local authorities after the concerned diamond mining companies had turned deaf ears to our complaints. The number of cows which our people have lost is increasing everyday. We strongly suspect that the companies are disposing toxic chemicals in Odzi River. We say so because before these companies started operating here we did not experience this. The 300 cattle we are talking of, is of this year only,”headman Nemaramba told Radio VOP in Nyanyadzi at the weekend.
Another traditional leader, headman Chiduwe said he approached Marange Resources over the issue.
“Anjin has one mistake. When we approached them they reacted by constructing dams which they are now using, but their problem is that they did not fence them and as a result our cattle are being trapped by the mud and die .I personally approached Marange Resources and they refuted the allegations that they were killing our domestic animals through the chemicals they use for diamond mining. We have records of what we are telling you,” said headman Chiduwe.
“We are having a double tragedy here. They are killing our domestic animals at the same time they are unlawfully terminating employment contracts for our children,” said another disgruntled villager.
Anjin’s public relations manager only identified as Mukango refused to comment on the issue.
Last year, five villagers and an environmental watchdog group sued three diamond firms, Anjin Investments, Marange Resources and Diamond Mining Company, which are all extracting diamonds from the Chiadzwa diamond fields for recklessly discharging untreated mine waste material and effluent into three rivers during their mining and exploration operations in Manicaland province. The villagers, Zakeu Nhachi, Rosemary Jena, Elias Matsveruka, Mayimboti Mayimboti, Isaac Ziwenjere from Buhera and Chimanimani constituencies charged that the release of untreated mineral waste and raw human waste had left Odzi, Singwizi and Save rivers silted, muddied, dirty and loaded with chemical and metal deposits including iron, chromium and nickel. As a result of the pollution, the water in the rivers is no longer fit for bathing, drinking, gardening and watering livestock, according to the villagers, who claim to depend and have traditionally depended on the rivers for their subsistence including using the river water for drinking, bathing, watering livestock, gardening and fishing for many years before the mining firms commenced operations in the river catchments. The villagers claimed that the pollution of the rivers had destroyed aquatic life like fish and disturbed the ecosystem in the rivers while the waste discharge is exposing them to risks of contracting diseases such as cancer, cholera, typhoid fever, dental and skeletal fluorosis.