Friday, February 23, 2024

Oxfam opposes mining in Lower Zambezi

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Oxfam Southern Africa has called for the immediate stop to all mining activities or strides towards this in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

Oxfam Country Representative Yvonne Chibiya says her Organisation is concerned over the ongoing and highly controversial Lower Zambezi National Park mining saga and has cautioned the Zambian government against proceeding with the project.

Ms. Chibiya has warned that any disruption to this ecosystem could prove disastrous, particularly at a time when the world is battling a climate change crisis.

She said the project not only goes against the Government’s pronounced commitments towards environmental sustainability but also sets negative precedent for Natural Resource Management and Environmental Protection within the New Dawn Government’s industrialization agenda.

Ms. Chibiya said the Lower Zambezi National Park hosts a sensitive ecosystem sustaining a vast amount of biodiversity necessary for environmental sustainability in Zambia and some neighboring countries.

She has since proposed that government Invests in expanding tourism and other productive sectors away from mining and develops a clear-cut Environmental Protection Strategy to safeguard and adequately finance environmental impact response and mitigation efforts within Zambia’s industrialization agenda.

Ms. Chibiya has also noted the need to promote the autonomy of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency as a regulatory body to effectively execute their mandate of managing environmental protection by enforcing all regulations to mitigate negative environmental impacts.

Below is the full statement

For Immediate Release:

OXFAM CAUTIONS ON MOVE TO OPEN LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK FOR MINING ACTIVITY

Oxfam in Southern Africa expresses concern over the ongoing and highly controversial Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP) mining saga and cautions the Zambian government on the move to proceed with mining activity in the national park. On 31st January 2022, media reports cited the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment as having indicated that the embattled open-pit mining project in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park would go ahead under strict adherence to measures set by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to mitigate environmental impacts. This follows the Supreme Court’s dismissal of an appeal by civil society organisations in Zambia against the proposed large scale open-pit mining project that has been raging for years.

While Oxfam acknowledges the decision made by the Court of Appeal, delivered by Justice Ngulube on 27th February 2021, to allow for the mining project by Mwembeshi Minerals to proceed, it is immensely concerning that the Government has unilaterally and quickly positioned itself to accept the ruling, forgoing all public outcry and expert caution against the said project. This not only goes against the Government’s pronounced commitments towards environmental sustainability but also sets a negative precedent for Natural Resource Management (NRM) and Environmental Protection within the New Dawn Government’s industrialization agenda.

The Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP) hosts a sensitive ecosystem sustaining a vast amount of biodiversity necessary for environmental sustainability in Zambia and some neighbouring countries. This region also provides a critical water resource for over 250 million people in the region that depend on the Zambezi River and the surrounding ecosystem for water, fishing, wildlife, agriculture, tourism, forestry, and other livelihood activities. A disruption to this ecosystem could prove disastrous, particularly at a time when the world is battling a climate change crisis. The impacts of climate change are glaringly apparent, with the most recent being the Tropical Cyclone Ana that has devastated the Southern Africa region, particularly Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, including some parts of Zambia.

A report by Investigative Environmental Journalism notes that an independent review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) done in 2012 and 2014 submitted to ZEMA showcased flaws against the tenets of sustainable development. The intended project violates Zambian national environmental and public health laws as well as international environmental agreements which mitigate against environmental risk management set out in the Equator Principles, as well as standards for mining in protected environments established by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The ZEMA Board disallowed the mining project on similar grounds but was later overruled in judgement by then Minister of Mines, Harry Kalaba, on grounds that the project would create jobs for locals and technologies be employed to mitigate environmental impact.
This saga has highlighted two points of concern namely, ZEMA’s limited autonomy to execute its regulatory functions towards environmental protection due to political influence and conflicting laws that fail to recognize designated land use plans particularly for ecosystem protection. This is a threat to the objectivity, as well as the autonomy of the Environmental Management Regulatory body.

Oxfam also expresses concern over the high dependence on resource extraction for Zambia’s development agenda, evidenced by the new Government’s pronouncements to upscale copper production over 250% in the next decade. Whereas, this may pay back positively in revenue terms, it is worth noting that mining has serious implications on lives, livelihoods, and the environment.

While acknowledging efforts towards environmental protection through the creation of a Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, Oxfam cautions that without commensurate monetary investment to mitigate impacts (only 0.1% of the 2022 National Budget), and a clear-cut strategy for protection of key ecosystems in the country which have been grossly degazetted in past years, all efforts may be futile. Mining, though a strategic sector for Zambia, has historically been cause for environmental and human rights concerns with mining towns in the Copperbelt, Central and North-Western Provinces being key examples of this.

There is a need, therefore, to properly establish natural resource governance best practice for Zambia, governed by adequate laws and policies for beneficial and sustainable mining.
Oxfam remains committed to the call for resource extraction that is sustainable, contributes positively to the development and is instrumental to fighting poverty and inequalities. Within this mandate, we call for the immediate stop to all mining activity or strides towards this in the Lower Zambezi National Park. We wish to re-echo and propose the following for consideration by the Government, through the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development in working with the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment:

1. Government Investment in expanding tourism and other productive sectors away from mining. The Lower Zambezi offers natural renewable resources that can increase employment and revenue generation while contributing to economic, environmental, and social development now and in future.

2. Development of a clear-cut Environmental Protection Strategy to safeguard and adequately finance environmental impact response and mitigation efforts within Zambia’s industrialization agenda. We call to attention various pronouncements by Zambia’s government, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and commitments at the COP26, among others, towards Climate Change mitigation to be reflected in this strategy. We request that the Government also reconsiders the application model for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) towards which all mining projects lawfully contribute, to respond to immediate environmental impacts during the project cycle.

3. Autonomy of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) as a regulatory body to effectively execute their mandate of managing environmental protection by enforcing all regulations to mitigate negative environmental impacts. It is with utmost dismay that we note the lawful provision allowing a sitting Minister of Mines to overrule the ZEMA Board decision to disallow mining projects. We call for the autonomy of the environmental management body and upholding of decisions lawfully made by the ZEMA Board.

4. Development of a comprehensive Economic-Diversification agenda, within and away from mining. In keeping with the industrialization aspirations of the new government and Africa Mining Vision, a deliberate approach must be fostered to broaden the local economy by ensuring the revenue rents from the mining sector expand other key sectors such as Agriculture, Tourism and Manufacturing. Importantly, the extraction of other strategic and non-traditional minerals. We call for the development of an actionable Industrialization and Diversification Strategy for Zambia that shifts focus from copper extraction and exports and, prioritizes Value Addition and Local Content utilization.
We call on the Government to make positive strides towards prioritizing Environmental Protection and Climate Change mitigation and action on these progressive commitments.

ENDS//
Yvonne Chibiya
Country Representative
Oxfam in Southern Africa (Zambia)

15 COMMENTS

  1. “Oxfam Country Representative Yvonne Chibiya says her Organisation is concerned over the ongoing and highly controversial Lower Zambezi National Park mining saga and has cautioned the Zambian government against proceeding with the project”

    So Oxfam would rather have the people of Chiawa and the like put in tu ma project proposals for funding from their like minded organisations for bread crumbs and grants? Just allow our people to try their luck with the mining project. If Mikalile and his team misbehave in the first two or so years, kick them out …

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  2. This went to court and is now beyond government, and even the President of the republic neither has natural nor artificial powers to reverse this. We all don’t like it. Also Oxfarm, please help the people in the lower Zambezi with jobs, and that is why the people of lower lower Zambezi want this project like yesterday but those who are very far away don’t want it

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  3. Yes the previous (corrupt) government indeed approved the project. But this is a NEW government and surely can OVERTURN it with a different view

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  4. And I just DON’T believe that the resident citizens like their area to be RUINED. A new mine is NOT going to hire uneducated peasant farmers, so there won’t be any jobs for them. The only ones to get something out of the new mine will be the corrupt PF cadres that were bribed into approving it!

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  5. PF overturned the sale of ZAMTEL to lapgreen. The matter went to the international court and lapgreen won.As a result of PF’s reckless action ZAMTEL has pay about $350 million to lapgreenin

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  6. Mine will have spinoff results for locals. Semi-skilled locals can be targeted for employment as drivers, and artisans. Mining settlement will build markets and schools locals can go to. We need to shift from a country rulled by NGOs and grants to one prospering on production and commerce. Oxfam pays no tax, but they delight in seeing communities grovel for aid

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  7. When hichilema was in opposition he opposed the move! Iam now wondering what has changed …. Mind you he has the power to cancel the all thing before it even starts.

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  8. Ignorance of the worst order again, when something goes to court a President has no power whatsoever to cancel it. This is very simple, not sure why ignorant minds are blaming HH over a thing which by law is beyond him

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  9. All very well Oxfarm. But, you do make a late entrance don’t you? In future, be proactive – engage government before matters reach courts!

    #plant a tree please!

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  10. FELLOW ZAMBIANS LETS STOP THIS PROJECT NOW, AT THIS TIME AND AGE WE CAN’T ALLOW INDUSTRIAL DISTUCTION OF OUR ENVIRONMENT. WE WOULD RATHER HAVE SUSTAINABLE ACTIVITIES BEING PROMOTED. CAN OXFAM, TV BAKWATU AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS HELP US PUT UP A CAMPAIGN. LETS ALSO PUBLICISE THE IMPACT AND HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS RESOURCE TO THE NATION. IF NEED BE LETS CROWD FUNDING.

  11. WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITY COSTS OF MINING TODAY FOR A HISTORICALLY SHORT
    TIME AND LEAVE ENVIRONMENTAL LIABILITIES THAT WILL STAIN THE AREA FOREVER.
    ECO SYSTEMS AND LONG LASTING TOURISM WILL BE LOST FOREVER: THOSE ARE THE OPPORTUNITY COSTS RATHER THAN THE SHORT TERM GAINS.

  12. Zambians learn to think long term. Ask yourselves why the climate has changed just now leaving behind mass destruction behind. Think!

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