Gvnt plans to rehabilitate abandoned mining areas

Staff Reporter

In continued efforts to address environmental degradation and negative downstream effects on communities, occasioned by alluvial or riverbed mining, Government has plans to rehabilitate mined areas, which were abandoned without restoration, a Government official has said.

Addressing the media during a Post Cabinet Media Briefing in Harare yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said, “In the short to medium-term, Government will engage third party companies through the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to rehabilitate damaged mined-out areas on our rivers in the northern, southern and eastern regions.

“To remedy the situation, Government will, in the long-term establish an Environmental Levy on all activities that degrade the environment,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

As a way to promote participation of the third-party companies, the Minister said that, EMA will initially meet the rehabilitation costs, with Treasury providing the necessary budgetary support. “Where rehabilitation is to be undertaken on areas that have the potential for mineral recovery, the contracted third-party company will be prohibited from processing the alluvial sand within three kilometres of the river,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She added that the Environmental Management Agency and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) will monitor the engaged third-party companies in order to ensure compliance with proper rehabilitation practices.

Rehabilitation of degraded river ecosystems will be undertaken by local communities where it is feasible to do so and upon recommendation by EMA, as a way of empowering communities and creating employment.

The nature of the mining activities undertaken mostly by unskilled and under-equipped gold panners across the country is characterised by massive degradation of the environment leading to ecosystem disturbances.

Major rivers which have been affected by riverbed mining include Mazowe River in Mashonaland Central Province, Munyati and Angwa Rivers in Mashonaland West, Manzimudhaka River in Shurugwi District of Midlands Province, Mutare and Save Rivers in Manicaland, as well as Insiza and Umzingwane Rivers in Matabeleland South.