Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Transparency International Zambia Stands in Solidarity with Conservationists in Opposition to Mining Project in Lower Zambez

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Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) has released a statement expressing its support for the suspension of mining operations in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The organization stands in solidarity with conservationists, civil society, host communities, and concerned citizens who have voiced their apprehensions about the proposed mining project.

The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) recently issued a compliance order to the mining company, resulting in the suspension of operations. TI-Z acknowledges that this decision is primarily due to non-compliance and procedural breaches and should not be interpreted as a revocation or cancellation of the mining license, as only the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development holds the authority to do so.

According to the Mines and Minerals Development Act, ZEMA has the power to direct the suspension or closure of a mine for various reasons, including non-adherence to environmental regulations. ZEMA’s compliance order was specifically issued because the mining project failed to comply with the environmental stipulations outlined in the decision letter and did not submit an Environmental Restoration Plan. This violation is particularly concerning for a mining project situated in an ecologically and environmentally sensitive area like the Lower Zambezi National Park.

TI-Z highlights that the opposition to mining in the Lower Zambezi stems from the questionable process through which the mining license and permits were granted. The manner in which the license was issued has raised suspicions and cast doubts on the project. TI-Z supports the calls for the cancellation and cessation of the mining project in the Lower Zambezi.

The organization outlines three key issues regarding the license issuance process. Firstly, the mining project was initially rejected by ZEMA in 2012 due to valid concerns about the destruction it would cause to the park’s landscape. However, the decision was overturned by the then Minister of Lands, Natural Resources, and Environmental Protection in 2014, raising questions about political and business interests influencing the decision-making process. Environmentalists and conservationists have unsuccessfully contested this decision in court.

Secondly, TI-Z criticizes the approval of the mining project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) within a remarkably short period of time after the company submitted an addendum. This expedited approval process undermined transparency, accountability, and public participation, which are crucial aspects of comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments.

Thirdly, the mining company has not disclosed beneficial ownership information, hindering accountability and raising concerns about who stands to benefit from the project. TI-Z emphasizes the importance of revealing the real owners (beneficial owners) to ensure transparency and accountability.

TI-Z asserts that these issues, among others, have tainted the processes, procedures, and developments associated with the mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The organization argues that the lack of transparency and integrity in the entire process has hindered accountability mechanisms for those who oppose mining in the park.

In light of these concerns, TI-Z, along with conservationists, environmental defenders, communities, and civil society, calls for a complete halt to the mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The organization also urges the Zambian government to enforce regulations that safeguard ecologically and environmentally sensitive areas, aligning with the administration’s vision of promoting a green economy.

Maurice K. Nyambe, Executive Director of TI-Z, reiterates the organization’s stance on the matter and emphasizes the need for transparency and integrity in decision-making processes related to mining projects in Zambia.

1 COMMENT

  1. The country does not belong to the foreigners. I do not agree with mining in Lower Zambezi, but that is something we Zambians must decide without the involvement of foreigners

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