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HomeNewsCyanide Contamination Threatens Mbembesi River Ecosystem

Cyanide Contamination Threatens Mbembesi River Ecosystem

Some Chinese mining companies in Matebeleland North have allegedly caused significant environmental damage by excessively using cyanide in heap leaching procedures.

Heap leaching is a widely used hydrometallurgical technique for extracting gold from ore, which involves treating a heap of crushed ore with a cyanide solution.

263chat has learnt that as the pursuit of increased gold extraction rates, some Chinese miners in the Bubi District, near the Mbembesi river, have been recklessly applying cyanide to their ore piles dangerously close to the river, resulting in a hazardous overflow of the toxic chemical into the surrounding ecosystem.

The Mbembesi River, a crucial water supply for the local population, has turned into a pathway for cyanide pollution, contaminating the drinking water for livestock, wild animal as well as humans.

According to a source (name withheld), residents, previously dependent on the river for their water and everyday requirements, are now confronted with a hidden danger as their water sources are contaminated with cyanide presenting serious health hazards including the irrigation of wheat and other crops for human and livestock consumption at Mery Ellen Farm, along with ecological harm.

She revealed that these Chinese miners are missing crucial mining equipment because they fail to invest in permanent infrastructure, instead behaving like nomads who relocate to fresh locations whenever they believe the existing ones have been depleted. They “do not care about the trail of environmental disaster left behind”.

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“They have no permanent structures because when the place is exhausted, they pack the bag and go.”

Some villagers who are affected spoke to this publication and raised skepticism about the trustworthiness of those in charge of monitoring mining and environmental conservation efforts, expressing concerns over the possibility of corruption.

This concern arose after allegations that these officials are aware of the issues but have failed to take action.

The sad reality is that the Mbembesi River water contaminated with cyanide moves downstream, it extends its reach into broader regions, particularly affecting neighboring areas, including national parks and wildlife reserves, especially during the rainy season.

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263Chat is a Zimbabwean media organisation focused on encouraging & participating in progressive national dialogue

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