In Zimbabwe, instead of being a blessing for the impoverished masses, the mining sector has evidently created more problems.
For instance, when diamonds were discovered in the mineral-rich Marange fields, it came as a huge relief to many as the country was drowning in poverty.
But after a few years of daily excavations of the precious mineral, many people have started to realise that not only will the general population not be able to benefit anything significant from the activities, but the mining will further degrade their quality of life.
Besides the fact that many locals had to be relocated from the area which had been their home for many years to make way for the mining companies, the activities have, as is to be expected, had a negative impact on the environment.
The mining activities are not only exacerbating the air and water pollution problems but irresponsible mining practices are said to be leaving behind an area that is fast-losing its aesthetic sense.
Some companies are reportedly not making any efforts to restore the environment once they exhaust the minerals. This is inspite of the fact that the government has the Environmental Impact Assessment policy in place.
The responsible authorities need to make sure that companies are compliant to the requirements before granting them mining licences.
Companies must also not be allowed to consider themselves to be above the law and go against the stipulated conditions, no matter how close their association might be with the responsible authorities.
How is Mbada reclaiming the environment?
Mbada Diamonds, one of the mining companies that have been granted the licence to mine at the Marange fields, claims to be a step ahead.
The company’s motto is: “Harnessing diamonds for the people in an environmentally-friendly way”.
Asked exactly how the company was doing that, Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality manager Anthony Nyaya talked about the land rehabilitation programme that he said Mbada Diamonds had incepted in June 2010 and had since embarked on.
“Realising the negative impact of mining operations on the environment, the company realises the importance of having a mining rehabilitation programme, which is guided by the environmental management programme,” Nyaya said.
The programme, which Mbada Diamonds say aims at resuscitating the mined areas to ensure sustainable growth and development, includes the covering of excavations, levelling, terracing and commissioning it for planting of trees and grasses.
To ensure the continuity of the rehabilitation process, the company says it established a nursery that currently holds 5 000 trees, consisting mostly of indigenous species and a few exotic ones that include lakina and jatropha.
It is a pity that the rehabilitation programme like the one Mbada Diamonds decided to take on still appears to be optional to most mining companies in Zimbabwe.