The government last week halted three illegal mining operations in the Midlands as part of efforts to formalise the gold mining sector which is dominated by artisanal miners.
Artisanal miners have been blamed for environmental degradation as some of them do not follow proper mining procedures.
Environment Minister, Nqobizitha Ndlovu, told Parliament Wednesday that illegal mining activities were a serious cause for concern in the country.
He was responding to Norton lawmaker, Temba Mliswa who accused the Chinese of being behind environmental degradation in Shurugwi.
“We have seen the Chinese totally causing havoc; environmental degradation,” said Mliswa.
“When you go to Shurugwi, for example, Boterekwa; in my constituency, the mountains; the roads, they have done that. We have laws that are there to ensure that that does not happen. The Chinese too must respect the laws of this country. Is it a failure by your Ministry to enforce the law to allow the Chinese to destroy the environment of this country with impunity? What is your Ministry doing to ensure that the environment is protected using the laws, especially the Chinese who have ignored that there are laws in this country?”
In his response, Ndlovu said the issue raised by Mliswa was pertinent.
“Just to pick on the example that the Hon. Member has raised, three mining operations were stopped just last week in Boterekwa, where all of them were found to be operating without EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) certificates,” said Ndlovu.
“Those illegal processes had already started and we will make sure that the law takes its course. As Government, we have come up with a number of initiatives. First, to promote the formalisation of mining, working mainly with the Ministry of Mines where we have come up with concessionary fees for certification of small to medium-scale miners.”
He explained further: “I want to clarify that this challenge is not specific to a particular race but this is a challenge we are facing nationally and we have to address it as such. We have also come up with what we call an orderly mining initiative, working again with the Ministry of Mines where no one is allowed to mine unless they submit a site of works plan to the Ministry of Mines and they have an EIA certificate from the Ministry of Environment through EMA.”