THE Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) was last week granted permission to resume diamond mining operations by the High Court following the securing of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) certificate.
By Elias Mambo
A fortnight ago the High court barred ZCDC from conducting mining operations amid reports that its activities did not meet Environmental Management Authority (Ema) regulations.
This news article is part of an ongoing ground-breaking investigation into the Marange alluvial diamonds discovery and subsequent plunder at various stages by state and non-state actors. The special series is supported by the Investigative Journalism Fund.
In an interview on Thursday, ZCDC chief executive officer Morris Mpofu said his organisation complied with the court order.
“We complied with the court order and stopped operations until the EIA certificate was issued,” Mpofu said.
“The certificate was issues last week Friday and mining operations immediately commenced,” he said.
Mpofu also said following full compliance with the requirements of Ema, “ZCDC will switch on the plants to start diamond recoveries for the benefit of the nation.”
ZCDC expects to produce 2,5 million carats of diamonds this year after acquiring multi-million-dollar equipment.
The High Court had ordered the state-owned miner to halt operations over non-compliance with environmental requirements. ZCDC started mining in March last year, without an EIA certificate, contravening section 97 of the Environmental Management Act, as read with the First Schedule of the Act. Ema recently dispatched its teams to Chiadzwa for a verification and audit exercise while the Ema board also visited ZCDC operations.
The court order came after the Marange Development Trust (MDT), supported by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, dragged ZCDC to court for carrying out mining operations without the EIA certificate.
In its heads of argument, MDT said: “It is common cause that there are people living in the midst of first respondent’s mining operations (ZCDC). This on its own shows that the mining operations pose life threatening risks to the inhabitants.
“There are people awaiting relocation and consultation on the process itself yet they are being exposed to hazards of the unlawful mining operations. First respondent is clearly violating the rights of the inhabitants.
“First respondent is still mining in the area. It is doing so without an environmental impact assessment certificate issued by the second respondent in terms of the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20;27) and in the process violating the rights of the community members. This is the basis of the interdict sought by the applicant.”
“In terms of Section 97 of the Environmental Management Act, as read with the First Schedule of the Act, all mining activities cannot commence without the issuance of an approved EIA certificate.”