ENVIRONMENTALISTS have challenged government to adopt a proactive approach in ensuring that mining firms carry out their activities without damaging the environment.
Addressing stakeholders during a meeting in Shurugwi yesterday, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) legal officer Veronica Zano said the government should be conscientised on the need to monitor mining activities for the benefit of communities.
Zano said the government should play a leading role in enforcing laws to protect communities and the environment.
“Communities should benefit from natural resources, but at the same time at national level there is need to conscientise the government that in addition to extracting minerals there is need for responsible mining,” she said.
Zano said in as much as mining contributed immensely to economic development, there was need to break the silence on environmental degradation, water and air pollution brought about by errant mining firms.
In April this year during an environmental media tour, a provincial Environment Management Agency (EMA) official revealed that a Chinese company Galechka Investments, mining for alluvial gold in Shurugwi without an EMA plan, was heavily degrading the ecosystem and escaped after being put to task.
The Chinese firm which mined without the EIA certificate disappeared after the agency raided their illegal mining location.
Manzimudhaka River in Shurugwi has been destroyed and farmers downstream have been affected as a result of the mine’s activities.
Guest speaker at the provincial mining indaba, Shurugwi South MP Tapiwa Matangaidze urged communities to actively manage their natural resources if they are to realise full benefits.
According to EMA, most mining firms particularly owned by Chinese and indigenous players, are contaminating the environment and failing to honour their rehabilitation plans.