Minister of Green Economy and Environment Collins Nzovu has expressed happiness with the clean up taking place at Rongxing Mineral Processing Plant on the Copperbelt just two weeks after warning the firm against poor safety, waste and environmental management.
During his recent visit to the Copperbelt, Mr. Nzovu issued a one-month ultimatum to Rongxing directing the firm to stop polluting Mwambashi Stream, to secure its tailings dam and to ensure that waste disposal around the firm is scaled up.
In a media statement issued on Friday, Eng. Nzovu said he has received a comprehensive report detailing a number of improvements Rongxing has made in relation to safety, waste and environmental management.
He said Rongxing Company has made improvements to its tailing dams, waste disposal and is now providing protective clothing to employees, things which were neglected prior to his visit.
“Recently, we visited the Rongxing minerals process company and discovered a number of breaches which included tailing dams not having protective linings, some workers not having proper protective clothing, indiscriminate disposal of waste material among other things. Before we crack the whip as a new government, we believe that it is good to engage and dialogue with the investors first,” Mr. Nzovu said.
“I am glad to receive a report that just two weeks after engaging the management of Rongxing, the company has made a number of improvements as we directed them to do. We shall continue to monitor the activities at the plant to make sure there is no pollution to the nearby streams. We expect a number of mining companies, even those we have not visited, to emulate the Rongxing mining company by cleaning up all the environmental mess that poses a risk to the workers and the general public. Our investors need to understand that it’s no longer business as usual – the days of polluting the environment with impunity are gone,” he said.
The UPND Nangoma Member of Parliament highlighted the importance of a green economy in the promotion of health, wealth, and people’s well-being.
Mr. Nzovu said his Ministry has a responsibility to not only protect the environment but citizens from being exposed to dangerous and hazardous materials resulting from pollution.
“A green economy is a clean, environmentally friendly economy that promotes health, wealth, and well-being. A Green Economy is dependent on sustainable development – which means growing our economies in ways that benefit, not sacrifice social justice and equity as well as the environment. My ministry has a responsibility to not only protect the environment but to protect our citizens from being exposed to dangerous and hazardous materials resulting from pollution. This is the reason why I have been visiting small and large scale mining companies so that they understand the vision of the New Dawn government and also to make them aware of the consequences of careless disposal of hazardous materials resulting from the mining activities,” he said.
Mr. Nzovu further warned industries against cleaning up only for the purpose of inspection saying following environmental management regulation must be routine.
“My ministry will make sure that the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) is equipped to carry out its mandate without any political interference. ZEMA must not relent in checking for compliance levels at both small scale and large mining operations. We appreciate the contribution investors are making to the growth of our economy and our job is to make sure that business is conducted in a sustainable manner,” he said.
“In conclusion, I would like to appeal to Rongxing Investments and other companies to not only clean up for inspections but to make it a routine practice as required by law,” Mr. Nzovu added.