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CNRG warns against Mana Pools oil exploration

CENTRE for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) executive director Farai Maguwu has warned that the proposal by Shalom Mining Corporation Private Limited (SMCPL) to explore Mana Pools for oil could result in an ecological disaster.

In the Government Gazette dated April 28, 2023, Mines and Mining Development ministry permanent secretary Pfungwa Kunaka announced that SMCPL had applied to explore Mana Pools for oil and gas.

However, there has been an outcry over the application as Mana Pools is designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Speaking to NewsDay Business, Maguwu said the application if granted could have serious ramifications to Mana Pools, one of the country’s top tourist destinations and home to several wildlife species.

“It is very offensive to anyone who cares about Zimbabwe, nature, and conservation. The Mana Pools National Park is a World Heritage Site, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, World Heritage Site, which means it’s a piece of land that is of global significance. Even though it is in Zimbabwe, it has been recognised globally and the government of Zimbabwe has committed itself, which means it produces reports every year on the status of conservation of that heritage site,” he said.

“It is also our responsibility to pass it on to the next generation in its current state. Allowing the search for fossils in that area which will create an environmental disaster like you see in areas like the Niger Delta is something which must be resisted with all our energy.”

He added: “At the moment, I can’t blame the government because the licence has not been issued. But it is my hope that the government will do what is right and also tighten its laws to make sure that we will never hear again about a company trying to do mining or exploration in national parks.”

According to the application, SMCPL was applying to explore 130 000 hectares of Mana Pools situated in Mashonaland West provincial mining district.

The area, as stated in the application, was bound by a line commencing at a point which is on the Zimbabwe-Zambia international boundary.

The exploration and production (E&P) of the oil and gas business includes upstream activities such as prospecting, exploration, drilling, and production which, comes first in the production of oil and gas.

This industry consists of businesses whose primary mission is to discover and procure these fossil fuels from the planet.

Contractors in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), joint venture, and oil field service industries all collaborate with the resource owners and operators in E&P.

E&P firms acquire vast volumes of analytical data and construct essential infrastructure in the course of their work to find and extract oil and gas, hence, the reason why people are against exploration.

SMCPL is seeking an exclusive prospecting licence over Mana Pools.

“As an organisation, over the years, we have been pointing out that mining as an economic activity has both positive and negative impacts on communities, human rights, the environment, rights of workers and the economy,” the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association said, in a recent statement on the mining audit that government is reportedly carrying out this month and the next.

“Responsible mining is therefore characterised by the awareness of the impacts that mining may have on the economy, environment, communities, human rights and the workers and taking concrete steps to address the impacts. Respect of human rights, fair labour practices, respect of laws, payment of taxes and royalties and safe conditions for workers and preservation of the natural environment are some of the critical aspects of responsible mining.”

Any person wishing to complain against SMCPL’s application was advised to do so in writing to the Mining Affairs Board. – (Newsday)

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