By Felix Matasva, Manicaland Correspondent
MUTARE: A CHINESE mining company, Freestone Mines will consult local residents on its planned quarry mine operations earmarked at the deforested Dangamvura Mountain, NewZimbabwe.com can report.
Last year, the Mutare City Council leased its 6,5-hectare stand situated surrounding Dangamvura Mountain to Freestone Mines.
The Chinese miner will pay a US$7 557 annual fee to the local council to conduct its quarry stone mining operations.
However, a vicious war erupted last November after the local council ignored to consult the residents over the siting of the quarry mine, which is close to a residential area, and water sources.
Angry residents demanded the Chinese miner should be relocated to a new site far from residential areas and water distribution pipes.
Freestone Mines was forced to withdraw the equipment from the site as irate residents piled pressure against it.
Freestone Mines director Ruoxin Qi declined to comment before directing all questions to the local council.
“Sorry, right now I cannot supply anything, hence if you need to know what happened to this issue, please contact the city council,” Qi said.
He added: “If there is a consultation, it should be held by the city council, not us. You can ask them for the information because I do not have the right to consult the public.”
However, Mutare mayor, Blessing Tandi confirmed to NewZimbabwe.com the miner would soon engage in stakeholder consultations regarding Dangamvura Mountain Quarry.
“The consultative meetings are expected very soon and we assume if the town clerk liaises with them (Freestone Mines) anytime from now, they will announce a schedule,” Tandi said.
“We want this done very soon so that as the city council, we will know if the residents and other stakeholders are in support of the quarry site or not.
“Council will only facilitate the meetings since the miner has the sole responsibility to preside over the consultations. They have since written a letter requesting to use our structures during consultations like our ward councillors mobilising residents,” he said.
“Consultations are important as they enable us to decide whether to carry on or deny the project based on an informed position. I am not concerned about the residents in Natal or Dangamvura suburbs, but a water pipeline that is 200 metres away from the blasting site. If the pipeline is not disturbed residents in Dangamvura cannot be severely affected by the quarry,” Tandi said.
However, the Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association (MURRA) programmes coordinator, David Mutambirwa accused the border city authorities of putting the cart before the ox.
“That is precisely what the council should have done (consulting) before making a decision which is very unpalatable and a mockery to residents of Mutare,” he said.
“We hope and believe those consultations will not be a rubber stamp or a decoy to validate their intentions of giving Dangamvura Mountain to the Chinese. The views of residents must be implemented.”