The Zambian government is urging stakeholders to exercise patience and await an update from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) regarding the contentious issue of mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The call comes as Mwembeshi Resources Limited, the company granted a license for copper mining in the park, is set to begin production later this year. Environmental experts have raised concerns about the potential environmental impact of the mining activities and have called on the government to halt the project.
Speaking during a weekly media briefing at the Ministry of Information, Green Economy and Environment Minister Collins Nzovu addressed the matter, stating that ZEMA has been tasked by the Court of Appeals to issue a decision letter on the issue. Minister Nzovu emphasized that the government is awaiting the agency’s response before taking further action. The statement aims to reassure stakeholders that the government is actively engaged in the matter and is following the appropriate legal processes.
In the same media briefing, Minister Nzovu highlighted the achievements of his ministry since its establishment in September 2021. Notably, he mentioned the successful crackdown on illegal harvesting and trading of mukula logs. Additionally, the ministry has initiated the issuance of small and medium-scale concessions throughout the country, with 195 concessions already awarded to ordinary Zambians. These milestones demonstrate the government’s commitment to sustainable resource management and the empowerment of local communities.
However, conservation advocates in Zambia are raising concerns about the government’s decision to allow mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Save Lower Zambezi, an organization advocating for the protection of the park, asserts that the government has missed an opportunity to rectify past mistakes by not revoking the controversial mining license granted to Mwembeshi Resources.
During a joint media briefing in Lusaka, Mehluli Malisa Batakathi, the Director of Conservation Advocates Zambia, emphasized the importance of the Lower Zambezi ecosystem, which spans across Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Batakathi warned of the complex and controversial issues that could arise from mining in this shared ecosystem, stressing the potential far-reaching consequences for all three countries involved.
Batakathi further argued that the economic benefits of mining in the Lower Zambezi should be weighed against the known adverse effects of mining, particularly in terms of biodiversity loss. The presence of mining activities in various regions has historically led to significant losses in animal and plant species. Conservation advocates are therefore calling on the government to reconsider its decision and prioritize the long-term protection of the Lower Zambezi National Park.