By Felix Matasva, Manicaland Correspondent
CHINESE company, Freestone Mines, is facing litigation for embarking on quarry mining activities in the Dangamvura Mountain before obtaining the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
According to section 97 of the Environmental Management Act, mining companies are obligated to undertake an EIA procedure and apply for an EIA certificate to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
Under the confines of EMA Act (Chapter 20:27) as read with Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 an EIA is a legal requirement.
Last year in November Mutare City Council leased its 6,5-hectare stand situated surrounding Dangamvura Mountain to Freestone Mines and war erupted over failure to consult residents.
Residents demanded council to relocate the Chinese miner to a new site far away from residential areas and water distribution pipes.
Amid the war, both the local authority and Freestone Mines issued statements which confirmed the EIA process had not been undertaken.
Speaking Friday during a community dialogue meeting on Dangamvura Mountain, Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) director, Farai Maguwu revealed that plans are afoot to take Freestones Mines to court after it ignored the EIA process.
“The Chinese miner started preparatory works for a quarry on Dangamvura Mountain without an EIA. It means they broke the law already and a crime was committed. Section 97 stipulates that anyone who commence a project without EIA is liable to a fine or a jail sentence,” Maguwu said.
“As an organisation working with other organizations here like Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA), Mutare Informal Traders Association (MITA), United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) among others, we are going to approach the courts over the quarry. As citizens from Mutare we are not happy with the issue happening at Dangamvura Mountain,” he said.
“Despite that an EIA certificate is there, if they start to mine on the mountain, we will approach the courts and file an urgent chamber application. This application will not allow the miner to operate since the matter will be pending at the courts of law,” he said.
“When CSOs registered their displeasure over the Chinese quarry, Mutare City issued a statement noting it had come to their attention that Freestones Mines had started preparatory works without EIA. We were surprised days later to see an EIA certificate dated 27 September 2021, noting that EIA process was conducted, and a certificate had been issued. However, on 18 November Freestones Mines had issued a statement saying they had not stated operations but were simply doing preparatory works as they wait for the EIA certificate,” Maguwu fumed.