Zimbabwe has banned mining in countriy’s national parks, reversing a decision to let Chinese firms explore for coal at its famous Hwange game park.
The move came after campaigners took the government to court to prevent “ecological degradation” in parks.
Two firms had been given a licence to explore for coal in Hwange, Zimbabwe’s biggest national park.
In court papers filed on September 7, the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) warned that the park would degrade into a “site for drilling, land clearance, road building and geological surveys” if coal exploration went ahead.
Following a cabinet meeting on September 8, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the ban on mining with immediate effect in all national game reserves.
“Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining titles held in national parks,” the Minister said.
Ms Mutsvangwa also adjusted a ban on mining along most river beds, in a decision that would affect small-scale Chinese and local gold miners.
China is a major investor in Zimbabwe and a close ally of the government. The critical areas in China-Zimbabwe cooperation is in electricity and power generation, the key to the landlocked country development.
Over recent years, Chinese investments have funded infrastructure projects in the Zimbabwe and southern Africa in sectors including transportation, energy, telecommunications and manufacturing.