Opposition grows to mining in Zambian national park
SARW also calls for mining in Lower Zambezi to be rejected
The chorus of opposition to mining in one of Zambia’s most important national parks is growing louder and louder.
After the influential parliamentary committee on environment, lands and tourism concluded that the government should reject Mwembeshi Resources’ proposal to mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park, the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) has also come out firmly against the idea of mining in the park – or in any of the countries national parks.
“We wish to commend the Zambian Parliamentary committee on Lands, Environment and Tourism on their recommendation for the rejection of the proposed Kangaluwi Mining project,” said Edward Lange, SARW’s Zambia coordinator. “Mining has severe environmental impacts at each stage – exploration, drilling, transformation and transportation – and all these pose serious risks to the environment and public health.”
Lange stressed that the government now had no choice but to uphold the decision of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency ( ZEMA), which rejected the project citing environmental concerns.
He added that the decision by the parliamentary committee was in line with a forthcoming Barometer on Natural Resource Governance, which has been drafted in consultation with the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
The Barometer outlines best practice for natural resource governance in southern Africa, including in relation to environmental sustainability, and is intended to help boost the effectiveness of parliamentary oversight of the critical extractive sector.
“A notable principle is that the state should compel each extracting company to produce an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan ( EMP) before a licence can be issued,” Lange said. “These assessments and plans should be updated annually throughout the life of project. And critically, consultations with local communities should be on- going during the drafting and implementation of the initial EIA and EMP and throughout the life of mine.”
The committee’s rejection of the plan illustrates that the Zambian parliament is taking its oversight role seriously. The committee – along with ZEMA, SARW and others – have certainly spoken out clearly and loudly against the project. The question now is – will the government listen?