Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) has issued a statement commending the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) for its decision to cancel the mining license granted to Mwembeshi Resource Limited for a large-scale mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The cancellation comes as a result of the mining company’s failure to adhere to specified conditions, highlighting ZEMA’s commitment to upholding environmental regulations.
The decision to revoke the mining licence reflects ZEMA’s dedication to holding companies accountable for their environmental responsibilities. TI-Z views this move as a positive step, especially considering the contentious circumstances surrounding the initial awarding of the licence. The manner in which the licence was originally granted raised concerns about the project’s alignment with public developmental interests.
TI-Z further applauds ZEMA for its actions in light of the mining company’s violations. Despite the violations, the company continued its operations until ZEMA issued a compliance order in May of this year, effectively suspending the mining project. The breach of conditions outlined by ZEMA reveals a lack of compliance with environmental standards and a disregard for the sensitive ecosystem of the national park.
The cancellation decision sheds light on the mining company’s apparent disregard for the commitments outlined in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the decision letter issued by ZEMA. TI-Z encourages ZEMA to enhance its monitoring efforts to ensure that mining projects adhere to legal standards and fulfill the commitments stated in their EIS reports and decision letters.
Furthermore, TI-Z urges ZEMA to continue prioritizing transparency in its operations, particularly in facilitating public consultations and hearings for environmental impact assessments. The organization also calls for improved accessibility to EIS reports and decision letters to promote informed public participation.
In light of recent developments, TI-Z recommends enhanced coordination between ZEMA and the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development during the process of issuing mining licences. The organization advocates for issuing licences before mining rights are granted to prevent contentious projects from proceeding without proper scrutiny. Moreover, TI-Z emphasizes the importance of robust compliance monitoring and mechanisms for reporting complaints related to mining projects.
Maurice K. Nyambe, the Executive Director of Transparency International Zambia, reiterated the organization’s dedication to promoting accountability and transparency within the mining sector.