THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has descended on mining areas in Matabeleland South Province as it moves to combat environmental violations that have reached unprecedented levels.
Ema’s environmental education and publicity education manager Amkela Sidange told the Daily News that the agency is collaborating with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to address environmental violations in the gold-rich districts of Umzingwane, Insiza, Matobo and Gwanda.
“We are currently in Matabeleland South Province where we will assess the extent of land degradation caused by illegal gold miners and checking compliance with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
“Ema will disseminate information in the province and give all the technical support where needed,” Sidange said.
She said Ema has already been to the Midlands Province where it discovered massive land degradation in by illegal gold miners and project developers. The national environmental law enforcement unit assessed environmental damage in the chrome mining districts in the province including Kwekwe, Chirumanzu, Shurugwi, Zvishavane and Mberengwa where it conducted 659 inspections.
“It is unfortunate that during the operation, an estimated 383 hectares of degraded land was established mostly from illegal chrome mining activities and from project developers who are mining in a manner that harms the environment in violation of the conditions in their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports that they submitted before the commencement of their projects,” Sidange said.
She said they issued 24 environmental protection orders compelling offenders to rehabilitate degraded areas, compile EIA reports for their projects and cease operations pending compliance to stipulated conditions in the order.
“In the process, 56 tickets were issued to those found violating the law with fines ranging between level 8 ($3 600) and level 14 ($30 000).
“It was also established that a total of 83 hectares of previously degraded land was rehabilitated mostly by backfilling. As Ema, we commend this as one of the best sustainable environmental practices and thus encourage all miners to rehabilitate land after mining,” she said.