PROMINENT Masvingo politician and former Cabinet minister, Dzikamai Mavhaire’s Bikita Minerals could be shutdown for destroying the environment, the Financial Gazette has reported.
Government is planning to close the mine, which has the world’s largest lithium deposits, for breaching the country’s environmental regulations governing mining operations.
The company has been on a massive exploitation of the mineral which has left a trail of environmental damage.
The Financial Gazette says it was first tipped of the massive scale of environmental degradation at the mine by villagers and carried out independent investigations which showed that trouble is brewing in Bikita where the community is angered by the mine’s operations.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Francis Gudyanga, on Monday said he would lead a government delegation to the mine to investigate the issue.
The visit was pencilled for this week.
He said government was determined to make sure mines adhered to laws on sustainable development.
Gudyanga also indicated that the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), which is mandated to enforce environmental laws, would be part of the delegation.
“We have been made aware of those issues and are treating them with utmost urgency. We will therefore be visiting the mine on Wednesday (yesterday) to carry our investigations and we will be reporting to Cabinet on the issue. The law clearly states that no mine should be allowed to go ahead without environmental impact assessments and if we find the situation to be as bad as reported, we will have no option but to suspend operations,” he said.
EMA’s education and communications manager, Steady Kangata, confirmed the authority’s involvement in the matter, saying: “Mining involves digging for minerals and as such it won’t be done in a friendly environment.
Therefore, it is a requirement that mines engage in a constant rehabilitation process whereby they reclaim the areas they would have destroyed. We will check on the mine (Bikita Minerals) to see if it has broken the law as reported and if that is true, then it means operations there are not supposed to go ahead.”
Mavhaire, who has a 21 percent stake in the mine, in which some Germans have a controlling interest, refused to talk to the Financial Gazette about the developments.
“I don’t talk to newspapers,” he said as soon as this reporter introduced himself before he terminated the call.