The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has slapped gold mining firm, Jannarch 17 Gold Mining and Milling with a ZW$ 500 000 fine for operating a gold mine without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) licence.
The mine is located in the Kent Estates in Norton, Mashonaland West Province.
The mine once made efforts to apply for an EIA certificate from the Agency and was not granted pending request by the Agency for additional information particularly on consultation of surrounding farmers since the mine is located in a farming area.
An Environmental Protection order was therefore also served to the mine to stop operations until they obtain an Environmental Impact Assessment certificate.
“The Agency would want to remind miners that mining is a prescribed project that should be implemented only under an Environmental Impact Assessment licence as enshrined in Section 97 of the Environmental Management Act(CAP 20:27), and the Agency will not hesitate to penalise all those found violating this standing regulation,” said EMA Environmental Education and Publicity Manager Amkela Sidange.
“The Agency is ceased with the problem at hand thus inspections are also being carried out across the country in order to weed out all those implementing mining and other prescribed projects, as well as certain specified projects without requisite permits. Project developers should guard against complacency but safeguard safety of the public and integrity of the environment.”
The mine was also found to be operating without a hazardous substances licence in contravention of Section 10 of Statutory Instrument 268 of 2018.
In the process the mine failed to exercise due caution in the handling of hazardous substances in contravention to Section 30 (3) (a) of the same Regulation, leading to a discharge of effluent into the environment from the vat-leach tanks.
As a result there was an overflow of effluent due to heavy rains received in the area. The effluent killed a total of 10 cattle belonging to two local farmers.
“A docket has since been opened with ZRP Norton Rural pending appearance by the miner before the court. As such, the order issued by the Agency also instructed the mine to put in place measures which avoid any further discharge of effluent from the currently running vat-leach tanks,” added Sidange.
However, there are issues with the EMA penalties for miners, which are widely viewed as generous given the severity of the harm and the enormous profit these miners make from such operations.