For some years now Zambezi Resources under their subsidiary Mwembeshi Resources Limited (MRL) have been interested in copper mining inside the Lower Zambezi National Park. In April 2012 an environmental impact statement (EIS) was produced by Geoquest (environmental consultants) on behalf of Mwembeshi Resources Limited. The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) subsequently called for comments on the EIS which CLZ provided (see links below for full comments).
In summary, the EIS submitted by MRL grossly fails to meet international standards in environmental assessments. It significantly underestimates the potential for water quality issues, namely acid rock drainage, from the mine and fails to identify the issue of potential water contamination and offers no substantive assessment or mitigation of the problems which will almost certainly arise. Several statements in the EIS indicate that technical studies, which are required to perform a competent analysis, have not yet been performed and that MRL have been inadequate and premature in submitting this EIS. If this EIS were submitted in a more developed country it would be rejected outright as insufficient and would indicate that MRL lack the technical and corporate capacity to carry out such a project.
CLZ support mining in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner and we recognise the important and necessary socio-economic benefits that mining brings to an area. However, we urge ZEMA to reject the EIS and request MRL to rewrite an EIS to address the fundamental errors and concerns highlighted by these comments. Copper mining can be carried out in an environmentally responsible manner and it can provide much needed employment and development in remote areas such as Luangwa district, but under the current EIS this project will likely produce water pollution and other problems which would be disastrous for local communities especially with regards to drinking water and water vital for agriculture and fishing livelihoods. Further, the EIS does not commit to any concrete local employment or development benefits (other than 300 jobs – 150 of which would be under a mining contractor), but negative environmental consequences could negatively affect current employment in the tourism industry in the area. If MRL are to be allowed to proceed to mine inside one of Zambia’s most successful National Parks, we must ensure that they do not exploit and destroy the vulnerable area and we must ensure that the mine will benefit local communities.
Thanks to ZEMA public hearing meetings have been called:
-Saturday 16 June, Chiawa Basic School
-Monday 18 June, Council Chamber, Luangwa District
For any interested parties who wish to find out more about the proposal and for issues and concerned to be aired. If you are an interested party please make sure that you read our comments below and attend either meeting to hold the mining company to account