Mining at Mana: disaster looms?

Another showdown is looming between conservancy operators and environmentalists and a local mining company, Habbard Investments, which is exploring minerals in Mana Pools and Chewore game reserves in the Zambezi Valley.

The company is also exploring along Rukomechi and Chewore rivers. Paul Chimbodza, the Managing Director, said in an interview with The Zimbabwean this week that and Environmental Impact Assessment was currently underway.

“People should not just jump the gun. We are committed to funding environmental programmes to harness the impact of the proposed exploration. Natural resources such as wildlife and flora and fauna are equally as important as minerals .We need to share these resources equally and in a sustainable manner,” he said.

A local conservationist, Willard Smith, is strongly opposed to the granting of mining concessions in wildlife areas.

“While it has economic benefits, mining is destructive to the environment and should only be undertaken after thorough environmental considerations. It does not make sense to destroy our natural heritage for short term economic benefit,” he said.

An environmental catastrophe is also unfolding in the Gwayi/Shangani conservancy in Matabeleland North where conservancies have been allocated to Chinese mining firms prospecting for minerals and extracting coal under unclear circumstances.

The Hwange/Gwayi Conservation and Tourism Association was recently forced to call a meeting of stakeholders to find a possible solution to the illegal mining activities, which are polluting rivers and threatening wildlife.

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