The Zambian government, acting through the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), has ordered the suspension of all mining operations in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The decision comes as a result of non-compliance with the conditions outlined in a letter issued to Mwembeshi Resources Limited.
In a recent statement released by the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, Minister Collins Nzovu highlighted that ZEMA had unequivocally established multiple violations committed by Mwembeshi Resources Limited. These violations relate to the conditions stipulated in the Environmental Impact Assessment letter issued on May 7, 2021, regarding the proposed large-scale mining activities.
According to Minister Nzovu, the infractions prompted ZEMA, in accordance with section 106 of the Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011, to issue a Compliance Order to Mwembeshi Resources Limited. The order mandates the immediate cessation of road construction within the national park and suspends the extraction of gravel and other construction materials from the two designated pits within the park’s boundaries.
Furthermore, the minister directed the company to submit a site environmental restoration plan. This plan should outline the steps required to restore the degraded areas within the national park, including the borrow pits, to their original condition as mandated by the Environmental Management Act.
The decision to halt mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park aligns with the commitments outlined in the United Party for National Development (UPND) Party Manifesto. The party emphasizes the importance of efficient and sustainable management of land, recognizing it as a valuable and limited resource. The government aims to ensure that both public and private sectors adhere to responsible land-use practices.
The Lower Zambezi National Park, situated along the Zambezi River, is renowned for its rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes. The park is home to various wildlife species, including elephants, lions, and hippos. It is a significant ecological and tourist attraction, attracting visitors from around the world.
Environmentalists and conservationists have applauded the government’s decision to halt mining operations in the national park. They argue that protecting such pristine natural areas is crucial for preserving biodiversity and maintaining the delicate balance of ecosystems. Additionally, they stress the importance of sustainable development practices that consider the long-term impact on the environment and local communities.
Local communities and environmental organizations are calling for stringent monitoring of compliance with environmental regulations in order to prevent further encroachment on the national park. They also advocate for the involvement of stakeholders, including local communities, in decision-making processes regarding land use and resource extraction.
As the government takes steps to address the non-compliance issues and restore the affected areas within the Lower Zambezi National Park, there is hope that the natural beauty and ecological significance of the park will be safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.