The ultimatum from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) comes in the wake of a series of reports about environmental and health concerns in the diamond rich area.
The mining companies have been accused of discharging harmful substances into the Save River, and more than 4,000 villagers trapped within and near mining concessions are exposed to hazardous dust.
The miners have also been accused of not rehabilitating their alluvial diamond pits, which led to a malaria outbreak during the excessive rains experienced early this year.
The Minister of State for Manicaland Province, Chris Mushohwe, and the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association are on record raising concerns of gross environmental concerns in Marange on numerous occasions.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on environment chairperson, Annastacia Ndhlovu, recently said the EMA was a "toothless bulldog". In a bid to save its image, the agency toured the mining area recently and raised a wide range of environmental concerns, which they demanded be addressed.
The chairperson, Professor Sheunesu Mupepereki, said the board highlighted the environmental "crimes" committed by the miners in Chiadzwa in writing after the tour. The board has demanded that the miners to strengthen their mine security measures to avoid accidents and livestock straying into in un-rehabilitated pits.
They also called for continuous rehabilitation of mines and the adoption of closed water management systems to avoid the release of untreated slurry that might flood roads, threaten infrastructure and cause siltation.
"We spent the entire day on the ground in Chiadzwa to get a full appreciation of the nature and extent of environmental concerns there. We identified a number of issues that we tabled to the miners and they have agreed to attend to them. We gave some of them timelines, some as short as one week, to address all the concerns we raised. And we made it very clear that failure to comply during the stipulated timeframe may warrant us to shut them down," said Mupepereki.
"We know we have been labelled as a toothless bulldog, but we don't just act without assessing the matter first. We don't just come and close institutions before engaging them first. When you see us taking such stern measures, we would have failed to find common ground with the miners.
"We first investigate and collect irrefutable evidence. That's why we did not close the companies straight away," he said.
Examples of effective action by the EMA include is reports made to Cabinet through its parliamentary portfolio committee that led to the current probe of water pollutions in various cities councils, the *Chikorokoza Chapera* operation in Chiadzwa and the abolishment of alluvial gold mining along riverbanks.
In 2012, Anjin Investments and Marange Resources were dragged to the High Court by villagers accusing them of polluting the Save, Singwizi and Odzi rivers with sewage, chemicals and metal deposits. The villagers were represented by the ZELA.
The allegations surfaced following a scientific study commissioned by ZELA and conducted by the University of Zimbabwe. This indicated that people living along the riverbanks were at the risk of contracting diseases such as cancer, cholera and typhoid.
Some of the villagers' livestock died after drinking the polluted water. Though the miners have addressed some of the challenges, villagers, pressure groups and authoritative voices have continued to raise environmental concerns in Chiadzwa, forcing the EMA board to respond robustly.
Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has promised to give EMA "teeth to bite."Post published in: News