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.
Diamond mining company De Beers is likely to have to cut jobs, its chief executive said on Thursday July 30, as it outlined strategy for an overhaul of its business after the coronavirus pandemic crisis hit demand for jewellery.
De Beers earlier reported plunging earnings in the first half of 2020 as a drop in rough diamond sales and prices hurt margins.
Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were just $2 million in the period, down from $518 million in the first half of last year.
De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver told media official consultations with workers will begin on August 11. The business overhaul “is likely to lead to some job losses, but I can’t tell you at this point what that number will be”, he continued.
Cleaver said the process would last for three months and involve a review of the entire spectrum of activities from mining to rough sales, retail and the corporate centre, but exclude joint venture businesses in Botswana and Namibia where the miner employs 20,000 people.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended a lockdown from 19 april by two weeks to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, but the measure does not concern mining companies, which are going to contintue their activities.
Mnangagwa said the lockdown would continue because Zimbabwe had not yet met conditions imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to lift the measures.
Three people have died from the virus out of the 25 confirmed cases of infection, but health experts expect the figures to rise once authorities starts to apply tests.
“It has been a very hard decision that my government has had to take reluctantly,” Mnangagwa said in a live television broadcast.
Mnangagwa said the government would allow mining companies, which generate the most foreign currency, to resume full operations while manufacturers would work at limited capacity. Mining companies operating in Zimbabwe include local operations of Impala Platinum Holdings and Anglo American Platinum.
Zimbabwe began a 21-day lockdown on March 30, which has confined most people to their homes. But in poor townships, people are venturing out in search of staples like maize meal, leading to long queues at the shops.