APPROVAL OF MINING IN THE LOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK


LUSAKA, 1ST FEBRUARY, 2022


The Government wishes to make it clear that NO NEW DECISION has been made by the UPND Government in relation to mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park. In respect of this serious matter, there are legacy issues that have to be addressed stemming from the decision by former officials under the Patriotic Front government to overturn the initial decision by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (“ZEMA”) to reject the proposal.

This government is still committed to ensuring that all commitments made, including greening the economy are adhered to, but this will be done in a legal manner and we will therefore not interfere with any institution of governance.

Government will ensure that it exhausts all proper channels to secure a resolution in line with its commitment to the sustainable management of Zambia’s resources. This means activity that contributes to the economic, environmental and societal development of the country.

BACKGROUND

In March 2012, Mwembeshi Resources Limited conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) to undertake Large-Scale Mining activities under Licence No. 15547-HQ-LML in the Lower Zambezi National Park (“the Project”).

The proposed project was considered and rejected by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (“ZEMA”) on August 31, 2012.

Being dissatisfied with the decision of ZEMA, Mwembeshi Resources Limited appealed against the rejection in accordance with the provisions of section 116 of the Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011. The Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection (as the ministry responsible for the environment was known at the time), Hon Harry Kalaba on 17th January, 2014, allowed the appeal and thereby overturned the decision of ZEMA.

However, Vincent Ziba, Morgan Katati, Noah Zimba, Robert Chimambo, Kasampa J Tembo and David Ngwenyama (the Appellants) filed an appeal to the High Court against the Minister’s decision and obtained a stay of execution of the Minister’s decision (the stay of execution) pending the determination of the appeal.

On 17th October, 2019, the High Court dismissed the Appellants’ Appeal for want of prosecution and further discharged the Stay of Execution. The effect of the High Court’s ruling was that Mwembeshi Resources Limited was no longer constrained from conducting mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The Appellants later lodged an appeal against the decision of the High Court before the Court of Appeal and the same was dismissed on 25th February, 2021.

At the end of the Court process, the approval granted in 2014 had lapsed following the failure to commence project implementation activities within three (3) years from the date of approval. Mwembeshi Resources Limited therefore re-registered its intention to proceed with the proposed project in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 30 and Part VIII of the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, Statutory Instrument No. 28 of 1997.
ZEMA proceeded to consider the submission by Mwembeshi Resources Limited in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011 (“the Act”) and the EIA Regulations and accordingly approved the project subject to strict conditions under Decision letter No. ZEMA/EIA/EIS/726.

The Decision for Mwembeshi Resources Limited was therefore granted by the PF government. Decisions taken by previous governments are binding. The New Dawn Government wishes to assure the nation that there is no cause for alarm as there is *NO NEW DECISION HAS BEEN MADE*.

Issued by:

Hon. Collins Nzovu, MP
Minister

Ministry of Green Economy and Environment

Published by MyWritings

A Writer, A Diplomat in Waiting, Climate Change Advocate and a Football Administrator

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