On 12 May 2012, believing UNESCO’s statement that Zambia had agreed that no mining should occur in the Lower Zambezi National Park (see their statement below), I received word that the NGO, Conservation Lower Zambezi, had tendered their objections to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted by the mining company, Mwembeshi Resources, to the Zambian Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA). The 11th happened to be the deadline for the public to make written comments to ZEMA. Nevertheless I wrote to them as follows:
The Director General
Zambia Environmental Management Agency
re THE PROPOSED KANGALUWI MINING PROJECT IN LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK – http://zambeziheritage.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/zambias-lower-zambezi-national-park-threatened-by-mining-by-i-p-a-manning/
I was recently informed that Mwembeshi Resources have submitted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – presumably prepared by by their consultants, GeoQuest, in respect of the proposed mining of copper and gold by way of two open-pit mines and two below-surface mines in the the Lower Zambezi National Park, having already been issued a large Scale Mining License, and presumably, having submitted and had approved the mandatory Environmental Brief (EB) from the Dept. of Mine Safety, the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA). My previous requests to ZEMA, the Ministry of Mines (P.S. Mr Beene) and the PS of the Ministry of Tourism under the MMD Government, for a copy of the EB, failed. In addition I note that your website carries no details of this project, nor any invitation to comment on it. I would like to draw your attention to the following (and refer you to Safaritalk http://safaritalk.net/topic/7083-ian-manning-copper-mining-in-the-lower-zambezi-national-park/and SAFARITALK II http://safaritalk.net/topic/7070-zambia-a-national-park-sarkozy-the-mafia-and-mining/
In mid-October 2011, UNESCO issued Decision:35 COM 7B.8: The World Heritage Committee:
Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B. And, Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.7, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010), Welcomes the decision of the State Party of Zambia not to approve the proposed mining operations in Chiawa Game Management Area and Lower Zambezi National Park nor the original proposal for a tourist and conference facility in the Chiawa Game Management Area across the river from the property, which could have impacted the property’s Outstanding Universal Value; Notes that mining exploration is on-going in other parts of the Lower Zambezi Catchment, and considers that mining exploration and exploitation in the catchment could adversely affect the property if not strictly regulated; Encourages the State Party of Zambia to consider nominating the adjacent Lower Zambezi National Park in order to eventually constitute a joint trans-boundary inscription on the World Heritage List, in line with the World Heritage Committee’s recommendation at the time of inscription; Requests the State Party of Zambia to: Ensure that any redesigned tourist and conference facility in the Chiawa Game Management Area across the river from the property be subject to a new Environmental Impact Assessment which should include an assessment of the impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention; Submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on progress in implementing the mission recommendations concerning mineral exploration and mining and tourism development and on the status of the mining activities and tourism developments which could affect the property.
In addition to the Park being under consideration as a World Heritage Site, it is a category II protected area – as are all national parks, managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation, defined by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas as a ’Natural area of land and/or sea, designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations, (b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area and (c) provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.’ Any mining or large scale hotel development is therefore exploitation and occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area. This is recognised in the proposed amendment to the Wildlife Act of 1998, which would prohibit mining in the LZ National Park and in the adjoining Chiawa Community Partnership Park.
And I should bring to your attention the fact that on 18 October 2008, Chieftainess Chiawa (Chiawa/Kafue) Chiefs Chipepo, Simamba, Sinadambwe – all of Siavonga district, and Chiefs Mupuka and Mbunema of Luangwa met and issued an historic statement against mining for 17 chiefdoms of the whole Zambezi system. The Zambia Wildlife Authority is already on record as saying no mining would be allowed in national parks ( on 5 November 2008 the DG of ZAWA, Lewis Saiwana, wrote to Andy Fleming of Zambezi Resources stating that “National Parks and Game Management Areas should not be subjected to mining activities…”) .
In addition the Government, under its own PF Manifesto, avows the Christian stewardship of nature, they are therefore solemnly bound to protect the integrity of the national parks of Zambia, powers which the Minister responsible has within his remit.
I suggest it is therefore beyond ZEMA’s legal power and authority (ultra vires) to invite or make any decision on mining in a national or partnership park.
The Wild Foundation in 2008 carried details of an impending copper-mining threat to the integrity of the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. With the issue early in 2011 of a Large-Scale Mining License to the Australian owned Zambezi Resources and its Zambian subsidiary, Mwembeshi Resources, the threat is now very real, particularly given the recent actions of President Banda in launching the Ichimpe Mine on behalf of its Chinese owners before the Environmental Council of Zambia had approved the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This action is similar to the laying of a foundation stone on former President Mwanawasa’s behalf for a proposed 36-hole golf course, two hotels and 350 chalets in the tiny Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park – again before an EIS had been approved or even submitted.
An EIS is currently being written for the proposed Kangaluwi Copper Project (two open-pit mines, two deep mines, a tailings dam and dump, and other extensive infrastructure) on Mwembeshi Resource’s behalf by the consultants, GeoQuest. They will be considerably exercised to explain away a physical invasion that would ravage in excess of 50 sq. km of the escarpment area of the park, and that would contaminate the Zambezi and downstream ecosystems. That the scheme has been allowed – after consideration by both the Director of Mine Safety and the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) – to proceed beyond the initial environmental brief to a full Environmental Impact Statement poses considerable risks. Apart from what a President can do who is about to return to his farm, the Minister of Tourism & Environmental Affairs may overthrow the decision of the Environment Council should they give the scheme the green light, leaving Zambians and those who value our ecological and cultural heritage to the mercy of a judiciary and an executive with scant separation of powers.
Once the EIS has been handed in and studied by the ECZ, the public will be afforded an opportunity to judge the EIS. But NGOs in Zambia appear to be unaware of the latest developments and are generally loth to take on ‘Big Man’ Government. A general election looms, and other mining operations already exceed the capacity of the Zambian Government to protect the environment and the people. Attempts will be made to restrict the battle to those whose interests are locally excited. But the Lower Zambezi NP is, with the Mana Pools NP and World Heritage Site across the river in Zimbabwe, supposed to form the future Mana-Lower Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. And most of the middle Zambezi on the Zimbabwe side was last year declared as the Mid Zambezi Biosphere Reserve (MZBR). And currently there are moves afoot in UNESCO to have Lower Zambezi NP declared a World Heritage Site, and to enjoin the Chiawa customary land (part of it Game Management Area) with the MZBR. Given rumours of large lodges in the military-industrial style being proposed for the Zimbabwe side of the river, the Zambezi – as we know it, could disappear.
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