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Chinese mining activities in Gwayi area spark uproar

GOVERNMENT should revisit the decision to grant Chinese companies mining concessions in the Gwayi conservancy, as their activities are likely to affect neighbouring countries’ water bodies and spark a row, an official has said.

BY MUSA DUBE

There are several companies that were controversially awarded Special Grants to explore and extract coal and coal-bed methane in the Matabeleland North province’s Hwange and Gwaai areas.

The chairperson of the Gwayi Sub-Catchment Council, Langton Masunda said mining in the Gwayi conservancy were going to affect both local and regional water bodies.

“Any mining activity in the area would produce pollutants like zinc, tar, sulphate and ammonia which would all go into the rivers, namely Gwayi and Shangani, that are in the area. Our relations with regional countries are going to be badly affected because Gwayi and Shangani rivers flow into the Zambezi and downstream, they will pollute the Mozambique water bodies,” said Masunda in Bulawayo last week.

He said the proposed Gwayi- Shangani dam would be futile if mining starts to take place, as most Chinese companies are going to operate within the valley, where the dam is going to be constructed.

“All the concessions of companies operating in the area are all within the valley where Gwayi and Shangani rivers are. So whatever mining activities will pollute the water. The dream to draw water from Gwayi/Shangani rivers would be over,” Masunda said.

“Questioning what project is better than the other is not being anti-government, but we will just be enlightening each other to revisit this particular idea.”

‘Foreign investors are after money’

Masunda said locals should take it upon themselves to protect the environment, as foreign investors were after making money regardless of the damages to the environment.

“Foreign investors are going to dig and go home because an investor is like a prostitute who is just after money. So let’s protect our resources so that the next generation will be proud us,” said Masunda.

The Gwayi Conservancy area is located on the periphery of Hwange National Park, the country’s flagship game reserve.

Hwange National Park is home to an estimated 45 000 elephants and various wildlife species.

Masunda said that mining activities would also destroy the wildlife habitat and socio-economic activities going on in the area, such as hunting.

“Zimbabwe and Botswana are countries with no fences and we can’t fence off our elephants. We are sharing a population of animals and there is a movement of animals between both countries.

“Zimbabwe stands to lose through any mining activities in the Gwayi area, because the animals will move away because of mining sound pollution, intensified poaching and this would have a negative impact on the tourism industry,” Masunda said.

He said some Chinese companies had so far caused an environmental disaster in Hwange.

“Those who have travelled to Hwange saw how those companies have polluted the area. At the exploration stage two aquifers were damaged and they can’t be repaired,” he said.

Masunda said the mining activities had also led to the destruction of some endangered species.

“It would be a mistake to issue out a licence to do mining as that will be detrimental to the environment. Mining cannot co-exist with wildlife. In the past 12 years we have never lost a rhino but since they [Chinese] have come, we have lost two of them,” he said.

The Gwayi Conservancy area is also home to the presidential herd of elephants, which President Mugabe made a decree in 1990 to protect in an effort to discourage poaching.

Some Chinese firms have been fined by the Environmental Management Agency for illegally mining coal in the Gwayi Valley area.

8 Responses to Chinese mining activities in Gwayi area spark uproar

  1. UNDEREMPLOYED May 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Has anyone been in a Shanghai dawn recently…these people have the potential to make the Gukhura khandi seem like a picknick.

    Environmental consequence plays out over decades not months.

  2. MILES ANDERSON May 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    I have been to China. This is a country that is so polluted because no care has been taken with the environment. The Chinese have consistently depleted Zimbabwe’s fauna; rare animals are sought to provide fatuous cures most of them relating to mens potency, and now the Government is issuing licences to extract minerals and oil from our precious land. They must be mad . The Chinese care little for Zimbabwe, all they want is our potential wealth and only when our last stream is polluted, and our land laid waste will we realise this and by then it will be too late.

  3. sab May 13, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    In the Hwange area where the chinese companies are located they have already destroyed the reserve of water under the soil. They don’t care about any basic environmental rule and they are used to pour exhaust oils and chemical straight into the soils or strems.Fishes are dead, animals die, and people cannot drink water. Job conditions for the local people are unfair.If Zim decided to rely on Chinese help did anyone ask the cost of this help? They build an hospital or a road but what do they ask in exchange? The effect of their activities will affect many generations.Who can eveluate the cost of this loss? Who is able to evaluate the cost of this new for of economical colonization?

  4. Simba May 13, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    it is always tricky 2 balanca envaroment and mining,but we can not stop mining because of the fear of polution.we just need to put in place controls.If there are some mineral undergroud they have to be extracted to suport the economy.we can not move the minerals underground to a safe place to mine them but we can move anything on the land that can be harmed by mining activities.as for the rivers iam sure we can safegaurd them against pollution,We have always blamed our govement for failure to exploit the full aconomic potential of the country but when some effort is being made we complain.

    • McAaron May 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

      Simba you are saying this out of an inconsiderate, selfish, irrational position. Help from China is not help at all. Does it make sense to you that after all these years of mining diamonds we are still this poor, do we need to be told any other story about Chinese exploitation. Its only that this government is in a crisis as such it will allow the Chinese to do what they want to pacify the people. Time will come when we will kick these short easterners out of our country !!!

  5. Eunice Fusire May 16, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    The Chinese are known for their destructive ways, so why have them invest in our country. What measures are they putting to avoid the long term damages to our environment? What do we as a people not as government gain from their activities? Some countries who mean to assist developing countries donate freely, what have we had from these investors and where is the money going anyway? I do not trust the Chinese, they are in Africa in full force to milk us and go leaving sorry sights on our continent. We need to take charge of our resources not to allow colonizers in the form of investors. Please.

  6. blackwave May 17, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    This is just one of the numerous examples that shows how the government we have does not care about the ordinary people. They have talked for years about building the gwaii shangani dam yet look @ hw swftly the chinese have been given permission to mine. This gvt also has double standards bcoz they have constantly blamed foreigners for stealing our wealth but yet the chinese are slowly taking over our country and doing whatever they want.it now seems to me the chinese have more rights in zimbabwe than us the citizens.

    • McAaron May 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

      Well said there Blackwave, the time will come for us Zimbabweans to reclaim our dignity. Just check how 2013 progresses !!

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