Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Nzovu happy with compliance at manganese mines

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By BENEDICT TEMBO

Minister of Green Economy and Environment Collins Nzovu is happy with improvements in compliance levels at some manganese processing plants in Serenje district.

During an on the spot monitoring of manganese processing plants in Serenje district, Mr Nzovu commended those complying and urged others to adhere to the environmental regulations in order to promote sustainable economic development and create employment for the local people.

He however noted with concern that there are still a lot of illegal mining activities in Serenje despite the continued sensitisation programmes the Ministry has embarked on to the manganese mining facilities in the province.

This came to light after officers from ZEMA and the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment impounded six trucks loaded with manganese ore weighing approximately 200 tons.

Notably, all the trucks intercepted were coming from a named mine which was closed by ZEMA in September 2022 for non-compliance to the Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011.

A team of officers from ZEMA and the forestry and metereological departments is in Central Province to inspect manganese mines and processing facilities, forest reserves and metereological infrastructure.

Serenje has become a hive of illegal mining activities leading to pollution that has affected land, water, air and human health.

This is evident by the current situation at Southern Africa Ferro Alloys Limited where 28 employees were found with a strange disease (manganese poisoning).

Mr Nzovu warned that if the illegal mining was left unchecked, it could reverse the country’s economic gains.

Mr Nzovu is however glad to note that the source of the manganese poisoning that affected the workers was traced and Government, in collaboration with the manganese mining companies, is striving to prevent recurrence.

He said in a quest to reduce pollution and damage to the environment, the manganese processing plants have implemented a number of measures which include stopping the use of charcoal in manganese processing.

Mines have also installed the requisite pollution abatement equipment on their processing plants as well as installed continuous online and real time air monitoring equipment.

Mines have provided appropriate personal protectiveeEquipment (PPE) to employees; and put in place of measures to suppress dust emissions around their processing pants.

“I, therefore urge the manganese mining facilities to emulate what the manganese processing plants are doing. It is now a mandatory requirement that all manganese mining and processing facilities must comply by ensuring that all the employees must be tested for manganese levels in their blood every six months,” Mr Nzovu said

He stressed that the well-being of employees and the environment is of utmost importance and that Government will continue to enforce the law.
“In addition, the Ministry revised the Environmental Management Act and the Bill is before Parliament undergoing legislative processes. Among the issues the Bill intends to resolve is the cost of doing business by reducing the licence fees and processing time. In addition to that, the bill also introduces stiffer punishment to deter would be environmental offenders,” he said

And speaking earlier when he met commercial farmers at Silverland Farm in Nansanga Farming Block in Serenje District, Mr Nzovu encouraged ommercial Farmers to work with Government to increase food production for the local and regional markets.

He urged the farmers to consider implementing carbon emissions offset projects on degraded areas and plant trees to promote afforestation and environmental sustainability as these will reduce climate change impacts as well as generate revenue through carbon markets.

In the same meeting, a representative of the commercial famers Jason Sawyer of Nyamanza Farming Limited complained of the bad state of the road, the rampant cutting down of trees by people harvesting caterpillars in the area and constant load-shedding by Zesco which was affecting their farming businesses.

Mr Sawyer called upon Government to intervene to sustain their operations.

3 COMMENTS

  1. How much exchanged hands iwe ka Tembo? Just the other day a truck was impounded. The truck was laden with manganese.

  2. Why is Collins Nzovu commenting on this issue…why can you let the technocrats like ZEMA take lead? How can you state that you are happy when workers were poisoned and just yesterday trucks were impounded. This is how corruption works you have these politicians putting pressure on institutions with such premptive statements.

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