The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Environment Management Agency (EMA) has called for the deduction of US$0.50 per kilogramme (kg) of gold sold to Fidelity Gold Refinery so that it can be channeled towards rehabilitation of the environment.
The recent increase in illegal mining activities has heavily impacted on the environment while causing problems such as water pollution, deforestation, poor soil fertility and limited access to land for agriculture productivity.
Statistics from the agency have shown that illegal mining was also the major cause of other environmental problems such as veld fires and livestock deaths after having fallen into the pits left by illegal miners.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) Small-Scale Mining Conference, EMA board chairperson, Ambassador Zenzo Nsimbi said rehabilitation of unused mines was critical to preserve the environment.
“We have a major challenge in rehabilitating the damage that has been done so far and this requires a lot of money. Proposals have been flouted, I remember the days I was still at the Chamber we were talking about 2 percent of the turnover of the mine.
“However, this has been debated for a very long time and we are thinking of US$0,50 per kg of gold that is sold to Fidelity Gold Refinery, which will assist and go a long way towards where there can be the rehabilitation of the environment which is left or damaged by small-scale miners. This could lead to generation of employment, we could employ youth or companies formed primarily to rehabilitate and improve our environment,” he said.
He said artisanal and small-scale miners’ impact was not only being felt on the environment but to the population at large as well due to the lives and livestock that have been lost to falling into open pits left open by the miners.
Amb Nsimbi said among other challenges was the problem of effluent discharge into the rivers mainly of rubble which is a by-product of mining that gets washed causing siltation of water bodies. Amb Nsimbi said there was also spillage of chemicals such as mercury and cyanide being discharged into open rivers or water bodies, greatly affecting livestock such as cattle that resulted in deaths after drinking from the chemicals contaminated water bodies. In terms of infrastructure destruction, he gave an example of an incident that happened in Kwekwe where a classroom collapsed due to underground mining activities.