By the Environmental Management Agency (EMA)
HARARE (Mining Index) – MINING is one of the prescribed activities under the first schedule of the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20:27) and should undergo an Environmental Impact process prior to implementation.
What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (E.I.A)?
An EIA is assessment of the possible impacts that a proposed project may have on the environment, consisting of the environmental, social and economic aspects. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an Environmental Impact Assessment as “the process of identifying, predicting, evaluation and mitigating the biophysical, social and other relevant effects of the development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made”. The rehabilitation and mitigation activities will be clearly spelt out in the Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
How is mining a threat to the Environment?
Mining is associated with a lot of potential threats to the environment which include, land degradation, accidents from poor handling of hazardous substances, open pits and tunnels, deforestation, silting of rivers, pollution-air, noise, water and land, poor handling of hazardous chemicals which may lead to contamination of both surface and underground water by chemicals, poorly managed mine dumps may result in water, land and air pollution, and land use conflicts.
The potential threats to the environmental must be sustainably managed through strict adherence to the Environmental Management Plan (EMP). The Government through NDS1 has prioritised strategies that improve the health of the ecosystems with regards mining, with emphasis on rehabilitation of mined out areas. Therefore strict adherence to the EMP ensures that this NDS1goal of is achieved.
NDS1 and Mining
In order to achieve a national outcome of a Protected Environment by 2025 under NDS1, there is need to improve the health of ecosystems and climate action. The NDS1 points out that the thrust of environmental protection will be on rehabilitation of mined areas among other sustainable environmental management activities. With the aim of increasing mined areas rehabilitated from 2 500 hectares in 2020 to 10 000 hectares by 2025. In order to achieve this, miners are expected to undertake various sustainable environmental management activities as spelled out in the Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
What Should Miners Do?
- Environmental restoration programs should be prioritised e.g. closing up of all dis-used pits, shafts and mined out areas as obliged by NDS1 with regards environmental protection.
- Miners should adhere to legal provisions that govern mining operations particularly the EIA process.
- Work closely with government ministries/departments and other regulatory bodies for technical support and advice.
- Illegal miners should be organised, form syndicates and get registered to become legal miners who can sustainably rehabilitate mined out areas.
- Failure by miners to adhere to the obligations of the EMP can result in the issuance of tickets/fines, Environmental Protection Orders to stop mining operations, cancelation or non-renewal of the EIA certificate by Environmental Management Agency (EMA).