Two rivers of the magnificent Mana Pools, a 6000sq km World Heritage Site in Zimbabwe, are under mining threat. A shelf company of Geo Associates Pvt Ltd, Habbard Investments (Pvt) Ltd, was given two special grants by the Department of Mines on 9 September 2011 to explore for in the Ruckomechi and Chewore Rivers. In July of this year the company announced intentions to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Naturally, environmental authorities reacted strongly, as it’s difficult to achieve World Heritage Site status and it’s important to preserve any region’s natural beauty and resources as much as possible. The Zambezi Society, a non-profit conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the wildlife and resources of the Zambezi River, had the following to say: ‘We as the Zambezi Society are aware of the proposed mine and have contacted the company proposing this mine to inform us of exactly what it is they intend to do and how.’
Click here to read their full statement.
The statement further highlighted the intentions of Geo Associates.
‘According to Mr. Chimbodza, CEO of Geo Associates, the Zambezi valley was chosen due to its richness in Heavy Mineral Sand Deposits (HMSD). He says that this will be the first mining of this kind in Zimbabwe. The company also presently mines gold, industrial minerals etc. in different parts of the country. The Zambezi valley is the most abundant area in terms of HMSD and this is where they intend to mine.’
The Impact Assessment Consultancy (IMPACO) was chosen to do the environmental assessment and a Mr. Itayi from the company stated that ‘the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance, not only to Zimbabweans but to the international community as a whole’.
A campaign entitled, Save Mana Pools was created shortly after these events. According to a report on Tourism Update, Alan Dryden, spokesman for Save Mana Pools, said the following: ‘Mana is not for mining. We have drawn a line in the sand. This opencast form of mining has been notoriously destructive in other natural areas worldwide and, if permitted, would irreparably scar the World Heritage Site and destroy the wildlife and ecological resources that belong to all indigenous Zimbabweans.’
He says Mana Pools will be worth much more as a tourism employer and a pristine wilderness in 20 years than it will be as ‘a scarred and ecologically deserted ruin’.
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*Image courtesy of Mana Pools