In a joint media statement released today 13th November, 2023, Environmental Defenders, Activists, and Civil Society Organizations expressed their appreciation for the Zambian government’s decision to uphold the cancellation of a proposed large-scale mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
The decision, made by the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment (MoGEE), is seen as a significant step in prioritizing environmental conservation over potential mining-related environmental costs.
The undersigned groups commended the government’s commitment to striking a balance in managing the country’s natural resources, emphasizing the need to consider the environmental impact of mining activities.
The cancellation of the decision letter for the mining project, previously awarded to Mwembeshi Resources Limited, was supported by evidence, historical perspectives, and environmental standards.
The statement acknowledged the diverse reactions from stakeholders, particularly the sentiments of local communities in the Lower Zambezi.
Despite varying opinions, the undersigned stressed the importance of considering the potential environmental harm to current and future generations when exploiting resources.
Furthermore, the joint statement urged the depoliticization of decisions related to mining, noting that political interference in 2014 had initially led to the approval of the mining project, despite its rejection by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).
The signatories argued against using past instances of non-compliance to set standards for the industry and expressed hope that the recent decision would elevate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards in the mining sector.
Zamtel, a major telecommunications company in Zambia, shared the joint statement and reiterated its position against mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
The company recommended the cancellation or full withdrawal of the mining license issued for the project and called for engagement with the people in Luangwa to develop sustainable alternatives for improving livelihoods while safeguarding the unique ecological and environmental economy of the district.
Additionally, the statement called for the enactment of legislation prohibiting mining in ecologically sensitive areas and urged the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development to refrain from issuing licenses in such regions.
The signatories also requested a government review of its decision to expand mining activities in Lochinvar National Park and similar exploration and mining projects.
The joint statement was issued and supported by several organizations, including Care for Nature Zambia, Caritas Zambia, Transparency International Zambia, and World Wide Fund for Nature Zambia, among others.
It reflects a unified stance on the importance of prioritizing environmental conservation and sustainable practices in Zambia’s mining industry.