MAC: Mines and Communities

Zambia: High Court Grants Injunction against Lower Zambezi Mine

Published by MAC on 2014-02-10
Source: Zambia Reports, Reuters, Post Zambia (2014-02-13)

High Court Grants Injunction against Lower Zambezi Mine

By Nse Udoh

Zambia Reports

3 February 2014

The Lusaka High Court has granted the Lusaka-based Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) an injunction halting mining prospects in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

According to Action Aid, the injunction was successfully lodged on Friday following the government's overturning of an earlier decision to reject a Large Scale Mining Licence for Zambezi Resources' copper project in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

An Australian mining and exploration company was originally granted a licence for its Kangaluwi copper project by the Zambian government in March 2011 on condition of approval of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This was lodged with the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) in March 2012 but was later rejected in September 2012.

On 17 January this year, a subsequent appeal lodged by Zambezi Resources was confirmed as successful by the Minister of Lands, National Resources and Environmental Protection, the Hon Harry Kalaba. He advised that there are adequate cost effective measures and technologies available to address all potential impacts and that wildlife management in the area would be enhanced and conserved as a result of the mine.

This claim has been refuted by the CBNRM Forum, which is supported by ActionAid Zambia to engage with communities and government on the issue. The forum believes that the Environmental Management Act of 2011 - which should facilitate protection and conservation of the environment - is not being respected, and that the government does not have the capacity to monitor companies involved in extractive industries to ensure that they are abiding by the terms and conditions of their licence.

ActionAid Zambia Country Director Pamela Chisanga said:

"The concerns raised by Zambia Environmental Management Agency as part of its rejection of the Environmental Impact Statement including the proximity to Mana Pools World Heritage Site, the issue of acid rock drainage and the reduction in tourism in the national park are legitimate and cannot be mitigated as outlined by Zambezi Resources in their proposed management scheme.

"It is impossible to see how wildlife conservation will be enhanced by the presence of an open pit mine and the proposed jobs are unlikely to benefit the local people, who will also be affected by the pollution from the mine.

"The communities who live in and around the park are highly dependent on agriculture and will no longer be able to grow their own food to feed their families as the area becomes urbanised. The Lower Zambezi will ultimately become the next Solwezi, with slums mushrooming to house migrant workers.

"This is the first time that a mining licence has been granted for the purpose of large scale open pit mining in a national park in Zambia and sets a dangerous precedent for the opening up of protected spaces.

"We are extremely disappointed that the minister has overridden the earlier decision by ZEMA not to approve the licence. As there are copper and other minerals everywhere in Zambia we are extremely concerned that if project goes ahead, mining will inevitably become a regrettable feature of all our national parks."

On Friday, six environmental advocates were arrested but later released without charge for staging a protest at Pamodzi Hotel where Vice-President Guy Scott was meeting the Australian investors.


Zambia allows firm to mine copper in game park

Reuters

23 January 2014

LUSAKA - Zambia's government has overturned an earlier decision by the environmental agency barring Australia's Zambezi Resources from developing a $494 million open cast copper mine in a game park, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The agency, which has to approve all huge infrastructure projects, had in 2012 rejected the proposed mining project in Africa's leading copper producer, citing environmental concerns.

Zambezi Resources subsequently appealed against the move, and environmental protection minister Harry Kalaba found the agency's decision lacked merit, the privately owned Post newspaper wrote.

"The project should go ahead because it will eventually create employment for ordinary people in the area," the paper quoted Kalaba as saying.

"There are currently available cost-effective technologies and methods to adequately address all the identified negative impacts," he added. Kalaba was not immediately available for comment on Thursday. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa)


Kalaba approves mining project in Lower Zambezi park

By Kabanda Chulu

Post Zambia

23 January 2014

ENVIRONMENTAL protection minster Harry Kalaba has overturned the decision by ZEMA to reject construction of a copper mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park, saying there were adequate methods to address negative impacts that may arise.

In September 2012, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency rejected the project citing environmental concerns. However, Mwembeshi Resources appealed to then environmental protection minister Wylbur Simuusa.

Simuusa refused to make a decision over the matter and indicated that Cabinet should make a collective decision since posterity could judge decision makers' harshly.

"I don't want to make a decision alone because that will set a precedent especially that this is not the only natural resources deposit we have which is located in a protected area. Most of the oil and gas deposits are found in game and forest reserves," Simuusa said. "As a country, where do we place more value between mining and conservation of nature and wildlife? ...this should be answered by everyone. Should we allow mining and the expense of tourism, environmental protection, human and wildlife?"

But in a letter dated January 17, 2014, addressed to Mwembeshi Resources managing director, Kalaba stated that he had carefully considered the submitted grounds of appeal against ZEMA's rejection.

"I have also carefully considered each and every ground of rejection given by the ZEMA board. In exercise of powers conferred on me by section 115 subsections 1, 2 and 3 of the environmental management Act, I have decide to approve the project on the following grounds," Kalaba stated. "Firstly, the project should go ahead because it will eventually create employment for ordinary people in the area. Secondly, there are currently available cost-effective technologies and methods to adequately address all the identified negative impacts that may arise from this project and lastly, wildlife management in the area will be enhanced and conserved by the proposed managed scheme contained in your submissions. By copy of this letter...liaise with ZEMA for them to issue a decision letter with all the appropriate conditions under which the project will operate."

And Australian Stock Exchange-listed Zambezi Resources, which is a holding company for Mwembeshi Resources, posted that finally, 'we have been given the green light to proceed the development of the Kangaluwi Copper Project in the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia.'

"Now it has been a long road for Zambezi Resources to gain environmental approval after appeals by the local Zambia Environmental Management Agency saw project development put on hold," it stated. "So with a mining licence in hand and environmental approval, it is now onto finalising our feasibility studies to back on the road to becoming a copper producer."


ActionAid welcomes commitment by government to prohibit displacement of communities by FQM

ActionAid statement

13 February 2014

ActionAid welcomes commitment by government to prohibit displacement of communities in Musele Chiefdom

ActionAid today welcomed assurances by the Minister of Mines, Hon. Christopher Yaluma that communities located in the areas surrounding the Kalumbila Mine in Northwestern Province would not be displaced.

This follows a question raised in parliament on Tuesday regarding current lobbying of influential individuals by Canadian company First Quantum Minerals (FQM) to obtain a title to over 500 square kilometres of land. Honourable Yaluma responded that he was not aware of this lobbying; but that government would not allow any displacement to take place.
He also confirmed that an inter-ministerial committee has met and resolved the issues around Kalumbila and that that the issue of land allocation has been delegated to local government.

FQM acquired 518 square kilometres of land in the Musele Chiefdom through an agreement with Senior Chief Musele in 2011, however a ministerial task force later determined that Zambia's Lands Act forbids any chief from selling more than 250 hectares and that only the president can authorise the sale.

ActionAid is supporting communities in the Musele Chiefdom to engage with FQM and government over this issue through the Musele-Nkisu community taskforce.

ActionAid Zambia Country Director Pamela Chisanga said:

"We welcome this commitment by the Minister as it is vital that communities are not displaced from the land that they depend on for their livelihood, and that any displacement should be discussed and agreed with communities and adequately compensated.

"We trust that the ministerial committee resolutions on Kalumbila have been completed in respect of the Musele community submissions submitted on 26 March 2013 and that no unilateral decisions have been taken by the government in terms of the size of land, equity and nature of the compensation.

"We hope that respect has been given to the fact that this is customary land and that the community's input is necessary before any public announcements are made. This is because time must be provided to the community - who have so far not been engaged by the ministerial committee.

"We are aware that the community at Musele is not aware of many of the decisions that have been made and read or hear about these decisions through the media. We wish to implore the Minister to go a step further to ensure the meaningful dialogue with the community, the company and government so that all controversies regarding the Kalumbila project are resolved.

"The community so far seems to have been left alone to deal with a powerful multinational company while government seemingly took a back seat. We are happy that government has risen to the challenge and we hope to see this matter expeditiously concluded so that the people of Musele can carry on with their lives that have been disrupted over the last few years due to uncertainty and fear of displacement."

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