THE Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has suffered a major blow after being ordered to immediately shut down its mining operations this week by the High Court amid reports its activities do not meet the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) regulations.
By Elias Mambo
ZCDC expects to produce 2,5 million carats of diamonds this year after acquiring multi-million-dollar equipment.
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.
The High Court of Zimbabwe ordered the state-owned ZCDC to stop diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa with immediate effect until it has been granted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate.
This comes 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 arguments 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.
“The projects listed in the First Schedule are projects which must not be implemented unless in each case, subject to this Part — (a) the Director-General has issued a certificate in respect of the project in terms of section one hundred, following the submission of an environmental impact assessment report in terms of section ninety-nine; and (b) the certificate remains valid; and (c) any conditions imposed by the Director-General in regard to the issue of the certificate are complied with.”
ZCDC had argued in its notice of opposition that it should be allowed to continue mining operations in Marange pending the approval of the EIA report submitted to EMA in 2016. However, Justice David Mangota ordered ZCDC to stop its operations as it is aware of the legislative provisions.
“The first respondent is hereby interdicted and ordered to desist from conducting any mining operations in Marange District until it has conducted an environmental impact assessment process in accordance with the law and obtained an environmental impact assessment certificate from the second respondent,” Justice Mangota said in his ruling.
ZCDC was formed last year after government shut out eight mining firms operating in the Marange fields last year. The companies are contesting government seizure of their mines in the courts.