A coalition of NGOs and stakeholders is calling on newly-elected Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema, to urgently halt an open-pit copper mine that was recently given the go-ahead in the Lower Zambezi National Park in southern Zambia.
The NGOs say that if the mine goes ahead, it will not only risk contaminating water for communities in both Zambia and the neighbouring Zimbabwe, but for the entire Zambezi delta.
“We believe mining activities should be restricted to happening in mining areas of the country and should not be allowed in tourism and wildlife conservation areas that have their own ecological and economic value to the country,” the NGOs say.
The coalition says it trusts the views of President Hichilema on not mining Lower Zambezi National Park remain unchanged and “looks forward to engaging in overturning the decisions that have been made in this regard”.
The Zambian president had previously indicated on social media (here
) that he was opposed to mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park area.
Mine threatens livelihoods, eco-tourism
The Zambian Environmental Management Agency (Zema) had recently approved an Environmental Impact Study, paving the way for the Kangaluwi mine to go ahead.
The NGOs say that the river pollution that could be caused by the mine could threaten the Zambezi River’s 2,000-ton subsistence fishery, which provides food and protein security to 20,000 people along its banks.
“The Lower Zambezi National Park is an integral part of the wider Zambezi basin, which is the most significant shared resource that contributes to the economic, environmental and social development of southern Africa. Sustainable management of this resource is crucial in securing the futures of over 250 million people in the broader region that depend on it,” the NGO coalition said.
The NGOs add that “eco-tourism in the area depends largely on the renewable wildlife and habitat resources and contributes significantly to the local and national economies around the Lower Zambezi National Park”.
The coalition, made up of NGOs such as World Wide Fund for Nature, Zambezi Valley Conservation Network, Game Rangers International and The Africa Hope Fund, is also calling on all Zambians to sign a petition
to halt the proposed mine national park.