Find us on Google+

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Mining and National Parks (Monthly Essay)

The September 2011 short essay (3 pages) comes from our resident contributor on national development Elizabeth Mulenga. It examines the increasing illegal mining and mineral exploration in national parks. It asks whether this is the future of Zambian mining and calls on the public to give greater thought to the vast implications such activities may have for the future of our national parks.
Mining and National Parks

12 comments:

  1. I.P.A. Manning (Chosanganga)1 September 2011 at 05:38

    Part 1:
    The threats to our protected areas from mining and industrial-type tourism are indeed massive – apart from their plunder for bushmeat and ivory. And the reaction of Zambians, local expatriates, NGOs, CBOs, journalists and church groups generally to what is happening, is redolent of a submerged hippo escaping the attentions of a hunter.

    Recently the Chinese owned Ichimpe mine was launched by President Banda, despite there being no approved environmental impact brief, nor the more considered environmental impact statement (EIS), mandatory under the Zambia Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011. Since the MMD Government has had the key to the till, $6.8 billion in illicit financial flows have been illegally exported from Zambia, with a massive discrepancy between money supposedly paid to the MMD by the mines and that to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). From the time the derisory royalty rates were set, it was clear that “Big Man’ payoffs were part of the deal. And firms like Glencore – surely the very definition and essence of the unacceptable face of capitalism - they of Mopani fame, simply paid nothing to Zambia, exporting every cent, and with it our human and environmental health. And they developed their empire with money from Credit Default Swaps – the toxic ‘derivative’ instruments’ that in 2008 brought our financial system to its knees. And they are still with us, they and the others who circumvent the law, operating with impunity and without regard for Zambia.

    What Mulenga sees as evidence of economic growth is in reality a cardboard cake with pretty, though noxious icing; rather like GDP itself. And the poor have got poorer – in line with Engel’s Law (the poorer a family, the larger the share of its income that is spent on food). As with the Mopani Mines debacle, not only are massive sums of money being illegally exported, but the land is being poisoned, the people impoverished – though the waPajero continue to lay down another neck-role of fat. All the evidence and research reveals the resource curse that the mines have been for Zambia. And it is simply not true that government institutions have improved in their regulation and best practices –even if it is a former Minister of Mines who says so. How can one even quote an MMD Minister after a Zambian’s average longevity at birth has dropped about one year for every year of the last 21-years of the MMD’s rapacious and dysfunctional rule.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I.P.A. Manning (Chosanganga)1 September 2011 at 05:39

    Part 2:
    Mulenga quotes Dr Beene, the PS of Mines, on the issue of mining in national parks saying, ‘that there were currently no licenses issued …on any mine in a Zambian national park’. Beene is lying. Mwembeshi Resources were issued with a Large Scale Mining License in February. And similar licenses have been issued to Denison et al who are about to mine uranium in the mid-Zambezi on customary and Game Management Areas. Beene’s promise to send me the environmental brief that was submitted by Zambezi/Mwembeshi Resources for the Kangaluwi Copper Project in the Lower Zambezi National Park remains an MMD politicians’ promise. And inquiries made to Beene and to the Zambian Environmental Management Agency about progress on the submission of the Environmental Impact Statement by Mwembeshi have not been answered. And for a mining license to be issued, it should have had the permission of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA). In any case their DG at the time, Saiwana, stated in November 2008 that they do not want mining in national parks or GMAs. For ZAWA now to use the excuse of the shortage of manpower for their failure to prohibit or stop legal or illegal mining in protected areas is frankly pathetic. The reason they don’t stand in the way of mining is because they are told what to do by the “Big Man”, Banda.

    Mulenga asks whether mining should be allowed in national parks. I am taken aback at something that should be so obvious to Zambians who have their own rich pre-musungu history of conservation in the baChiwinda and other guilds, and who also have inherited our British conservation model first issued under Magna Carta in 1215.

    National Parks are category II protected areas managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation, defined by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas as a ’Natural area of land and/or sea, designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations, (b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area and (c) provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.’

    Any mining or large scale hotel development is therefore exploitation and occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area.

    For there to be any change for the better in Zambia it will require a government to be voted in on 20 September that has adopted the principles and ethics of the Christian stewardship of nature. The Patriotic Front manifesto is avowedly Christian – though tolerant of all religions. We expect much of them. I expect very much more from Zambians.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mining industry are part of our economy.
    Some countries has rich spot and they use it as their source.
    Love the blog.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I.P.A. Manning,

    Mulenga quotes Dr Beene, the PS of Mines, on the issue of mining in national parks saying, ‘that there were currently no licenses issued …on any mine in a Zambian national park’. Beene is lying. Mwembeshi Resources were issued with a Large Scale Mining License in February. And similar licenses have been issued to Denison et al who are about to mine uranium in the mid-Zambezi on customary and Game Management Areas.

    Excellent and very informative post.

    I remember that Godwin (Godfrey?) Beene is also on the board of ZCCM-IH. Like today's Finance Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane has been previously.

    Beene is not only PS to the ministry of the Mines, he is on the board of directors of ZCCM-IH, the Parliamentary Estimates Committee, and MP for Itezhi Tehzi. See here.

    They are all protecting the mines, so they not only don't have to pay taxes, but don't actually pay dividends ($18 mn was as joke - they should be paying $300 mn, under the present system) to ZCCM-IH.

    Also telling was how they fell all over themselves on how to give it back.

    The truth is very simple - there is massive government/MMD (what's the difference without a precise constitution) of the major mining companies and the banking dynasties who own them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Whilst I understand the concerns of conservationists lobbying to keep prospectors and miners out of National parks I appeal for a more holistic attitude to land management in Zambia. It is too easy to become focused on natural resource plunder within protected areas and forget the need to restore and preserve the integrity of our entire ecosystem.
    Nor should we limit land use discussion to colonial vision and delimitations bullied in by force 60 years ago. The population has quadrupled since then and the policy of restricting access to besieged protected areas has had limited success as evidenced by the continual plunder. I hope we all acknowledge that tourism can never come close to supporting even the flagship national parks let alone pave the way to a restoration of Zambia’s damaged eco-system so fresh thinking on financing incentives are needed anyway. Zawa is now absolutely broke and there is no appetite to subsidise conservation from the national coffers.
    Fortunately an exciting new movement to expand good stewardship is already well under way in the guise of community conservancies. This patchwork of locally managed biodiversity areas will eventually add up to far more well- managed land than we can boast of today. The Reclassification Project is the latest initiative to involve local stakeholders in natural resource management, updating boundaries and adjusting PA status where needed. The Kavango- Zambezi Transfrontier (KAZA) planning framework in the south- west is working along similar lines.
    Climate strategists have recognised that targeting the Global Climate Fund at indigenous land managers for performance-based eco-services is a sound investment. If GRZ continues to support its well-established CBNRM policy, millions of Zambians could soon earn a living fixing carbon back into the soil whilst increasing the general productivity and diversity of the habitat.

    ReplyDelete
  6. con't...

    What has all this got to do with the debate on mining in national parks? By all accounts we are currently only talking about prospecting licences. I learnt recently that few of the current prospects in the Zambezi Valley are likely to yield enough to justify mining investment and there are certainly no large-scale copper mines on the cards. If gold prices remain high as a buffer to the current recession, Jesse gold mine is viable. Reopening this mine could be turned positive if the operators commit to employing locals and a shrewd company might even help with conservation work.
    One worry is that demand for gold has lead to an influx of illegal dredging for gold taking place in the Luano and Lower Zambezi valleys. Again, a licensed mining company under international scrutiny would easier to monitor. A good EIA would require the company to remove the overburden beforehand and replace it afterwards to enable the habitat make a quick recovery. The hit- and- run techniques currently used are causing untold damage to sensitive tributaries that feed the Zambezi in addition to the poaching, careless burning and deforesting that other referred to. An expert source did warn that development of the Kangaluwi prospect north of Mpata Gorge might not be in the national interest. I cannot say why right now but I am investigating further and I’ll report back as soon as I understand the problem.
    As Elizabeth stated, mining brings in the capital the country needs to develop a solid, renewable economic base and, now that the donor gravy- train is slowing down, stone-walling the industry might well turn public opinion against conservation and risk further de-gazetting of PA’s by desperate popularists. The argument that we shouldn’t allow private companies to mine because accountability in the system is poor is pretty weak in a country with such high unemployment; if government is broken we must fix it, if some companies are cheating they must be stopped! The bright side of privatisation is that companies have cleaned up their emissions and are now capturing up to 95% from smelters that for decades rained pure acid and poisoned the Kafue basin. This includes the big Chinese companies on the Copperbelt who recently opted to join the Chamber of Mines and play by international rules.
    I conclude that for the “cost” a couple of closely- monitored cooperative mines in the National parks, we are well poised to expand Zambia’s “protected areas” through hundreds of community conservancies thus meeting the country’s holistic goals of local empowerment and a restored culture of good stewardship.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rolf makes some interesting points here, and definitely puts a different spin on the whole question. What does and should constitute a "protected area"? Does designation of such areas imply that other areas are by definition "unprotected"? Is it reasonable to assume that the few "protected areas" will remain viable if they are reduced to mere islands in a sea of environmental destruction?

    One thing that seems clear is that ZAWA does not have access to a pool of resources large enough to effectively compete with the profit motive of illicit miners and poachers, who I think we can all agree have a demonstrable disregard for the health of the environment they are exploiting. Just about anyone would be a better steward of our life support system than them. A stronger ZAWA with reliable long term sources of funding for a robust parks network should be the backbone of a national culture of conservation and act as connective tissue between regional grassroots organizations in populated areas.

    I agree that reliance on tourism dollars to combat the problem is insufficient, as the amount which can be added to the price of excursions is limited, and ironically increases with the scarcity of the life to be observed. Not exactly an equation that makes me relax about the future of Zambian wildlife. If the source of money that is drawing the illegal activity, in general the unspoiled nature and relative abundance apparent in the Park, can be captured instead for the forces of conservation without directly undermining the conservation itself, then it may in fact be the best place to look for enabling sustainable protective systems.

    There is something to be said for setting up a single resource extractor as "Big Dog" protector of an area, with the continuation of their monopoly contingent on effective "protection" and/or "restoration". The example [http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/dsd_aofw_mg/mg_worktradunio_specday/casestud5.shtml] of Chevron's experience in Papua New Guinea is exemplary in many respects, however it is unclear to what extent such a model based around petroleum extraction is compatible with modern mining practices (or traditional ones for that matter). Considerable research, development and adaptation might be required before such a proposal was practical to implement in Zambian cases.

    Perhaps there is a hybrid third way solution, through selective harvesting of sustainable wildlife products from within the Parks, to offset the costs of protecting against the more destructive and invasive practices now endangering their mission. For example certain mushrooms fetch extraordinary prices for their gourmet or medicinal properties, a ZAWA licensed/affiliated corporation could be established to gently exploit the natural occurrence of such fungi with an eye towards their cultivation adjacent to the Park boundary and subsequent export. Students in communities adjacent to Park boundaries should be encouraged to study biological sciences, and schools there should receive appropriate equipment and teacher training to do so. This will require innovation at multiple levels of society, but Rolf is right, if the land outside the parks didn't look so bleak, the temptation to invade them would be less.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I.P.A. Manning (Chosanganga)8 September 2011 at 14:51

    baShenton says "By all accounts we are currently only talking about prospecting licences. I learnt recently that few of the current prospects in the Zambezi Valley are likely to yield enough to justify mining investment and there are certainly no large-scale copper mines on the cards."

    "All accounts" is simply incorrect. Large Scale Mining Licenses (LSML) - not prospecting licenses - for 25 years have been issued in the mid-Zambezi - and probably without the mandatory environmental brief. In the Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambezi/Mwembeshi Resources have been issued an LSML for a mining operation which Zambesi Resources boast to the market as being the 25th largest copper deposit in the world. The extraction of the copper would involve two large open-pit mines, two conventional mines and the accompanying processing plant, tailings dump and dam. This would completely scarify at least a 50 sq. km area in the middle of the escarpment with all the well documented pollution.

    Conservationists are, by definition, holistic in their view; but National Parks are there for a very good reason and not just a colonial artefact.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you all for your comments. I am glad that to see that both sides have been posting many relevant arguments. I admit that I myself do not know what is the right way for Zambia to proceed on this very critical issue. However, in reality we are speaking about several issues here, none of them with easy answers.

    On the question of protecting the natural beauty and resources of Zambia, I think that we at heart have no argument. Rolf Shenton brings up an important point in saying that we must not "forget the need to restore and preserve the integrity of our entire ecosystem." Zambia is a beautiful country both within and outside of the national parks, and it is just as detrimental to our natural beauty have rubbish thrown on the side of the road in Lusaka as it is the dig a mine in an area of a national park. Tourism revenue, as well as the quality of life for residents, means that we must care for the country as a whole.

    That being said, mining will continue in Zambia for the foreseeable future, and it does bring important revenue into the country. What Zambia needs more of are boundaries and enforceable regulations. National parks do in many parts of the world provide a boundary to separate wildlife and industry (and not just in Africa as a legacy of colonialism). Yet if we determine that the national parks of Zambia are completely off limits, we must have the power to enforce regulations. Yakima is right in saying, "a stronger ZAWA with reliable long term sources of funding for a robust parks network should be the backbone of a national culture of conservation and act as connective tissue between regional grassroots organizations in populated areas."

    This brings us though the third issue: the disagreements amongst the bodies of power in Zambia- specifically in this post between the Ministry of Mines and ZAWA. I disagree with I.P.A. Manning when he asks, "How can one even quote an MMD Minister after a Zambian’s average longevity at birth has dropped about one year for every year of the last 21-years of the MMD’s rapacious and dysfunctional rule." I believe that we must quote the people who are in charge, even if we disagree with him. By understanding what they are saying we can make informed decisions on what our personal stance is on the issue, as well as highlight the huge discrepancies amongst the divisions of the Zambian government.

    If ZAWA and the Ministry of Mines do not agree on the policies towards mining, there can be no enforcement. ZAWA simply does not have the manpower to handle the huge job they have been handed, especially if they are fighting against another government ministry. Zambia needs to come together to determine what is best for the country, develop a policy that is agreeable to everyone and then provide the funding and resources to enforce that policy, with no exceptions.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Illegal miners are one of the reasons why our natural resources are being destroyed. It's hard to deal with them because most of them are paid by huge companies. The government should do something about that.

    mining equipment

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree with the last comment. Illegal mining can indeed ruin our environment. It is important for the miners to seek permit and authorization to continue with the mining activity. It is not only the environment that can be affected by illegal activities but most especially the people that surrounding the place.

    ReplyDelete

All contributors should follow the basic principles of a productive dialogue: communicate their perspective, ask, comment, respond,and share information and knowledge, but do all this with a positive approach.

This is a friendly website. However, if you feel compelled to comment 'anonymously', you are strongly encouraged to state your location / adopt a unique nick name so that other commentators/readers do not confuse your comments with other individuals also commenting anonymously.