Zim mining rights watchdog says more firms mining secretly in game parks

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By Leopold Munhende

THE Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) has established more companies including state run Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) were awarded claims to conduct mining operations in game parks.

In a statement to commend government’s decision to cancel all mining claims in National Parks, CNRG said it hoped the remaining secret titles would “indeed be cancelled”.

“CNRG has established that there are more companies holding mining titles in the National Parks.

“These include Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) in Hwange National Park – Sinamatela area, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and Rusununguko Pvt Limited in Chimanimani National Park, Lagerty Investments in Chizarira National Park.

“There is also a yet to be ascertained company that is already mining gold at Umfurudzi Park. We pray that all these mining titles and others which are unknown to the public will indeed be cancelled,” reads the statement.

Cabinet recently gave in to pressure and reversed special grants for coal prospecting that had been given to two Chinese companies in Hwange National Park.

Zhongxin Coal Mining Group and Afrochine Smelting had been granted permission to begin environmental impact assessments for drilling, land clearance, road building and geological surveys at two proposed sites inside the park.

CNRG said some of the titles being held were being used as cover by poaching syndicates and those involved in the illegal trade of animals.

Added CNRG: “There is a huge danger that some of the so-called mining companies applying to mine in national parks are organised crime syndicates seeking to abuse mining licences in order to conduct poaching.

“Poaching and illegal trade in animals and animal parts and illegal trophy hunting are on the rise in Zimbabwe.”

Other Chinese companies have been implicated in similar cases in Matabeleland North and South.