Thursday, September 05, 2013

Govt cautious on sanctioning economic projects - Simuusa
By Kabanda Chulu
Mon 12 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

ENVIRONMENT minister Wylbur Simuusa says the government is taking a cautious approach to sanctioning economic projects that are located within game management areas.
And Simuusa has denied assertions by Zambezi Resources chief executive officer Frank Vanspeybroeck that senior ministers in the Zambian government were surprised at the decision by ZEMA to reject the construction of a copper mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

Confirming receipt of the appeal lodged by Zambezi Resources, whose US$494 million Kangaluwi Copper project has been rejected by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), Simuusa said Zambians must decide what is good for the country.

"I have received the appeal from the developers of the Kangaluwi project and we shall make a final decision over the matter within this month but I want to assure the nation that the decision to be taken will be in the interest of the country," Simuusa said in an interview in Lusaka. "Also the people should take a keen interest in matters of this nature, especially that most of Zambia's oil and gas reserves are found in game management areas. So how do we handle these issues? Anyway, the decision that we shall come up with will be a landmark one since we have to weigh the advantages of having an economic project against environmental protection, human and wildlife."
He also questioned the motive by officials at the Ministry of Mines that sanctioned exploration activities at the Kangaluwi project.
"In the first place, why were licences given? So, it seems the whole process has not been right from the beginning and this is why we shall get to the bottom of the issue and come up with a decision to safeguard the interests of the country," said Simuusa. "And it is not true that ministers are surprised at the decision; maybe there are others but I am not involved and this is why I want to understand the matter and make the right decision."

Following the rejection of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted to ZEMA, Zambezi Resources, the developers of the Kangaluwi project, through Vanspeybroeck, announced to shareholders in a posting to the Australian Stock Exchange that the company was currently taking steps to seek a review of the ZEMA decision as provided for in the environmental management Act 2011.

"The review is considered by the Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. Senior ministers in the Zambian government, including the Minister for Mines, Energy and Water Development remain fully supportive of the project and have been surprised at the decision of ZEMA," Vanspeybroeck stated.

"The newly elected Zambian government has gone to great lengths to convince the overseas investment community that Zambia is a safe place to invest and is encouraging of such investment in particular in the mining and resources sector."

Nevertheless, environmental activists have challenged Simuusa not to consider overturning the decision made by ZEMA to reject construction of a copper mining project in the Lower Zambezi National Park.

In the event of massive objections to the findings of an Environmental Impact Statement and ZEMA turns down construction of a project, the Minister has powers to allow the project.

For example, the MMD regime allowed the Chinese to begin mining at Ichimpe forests in Kitwe without following correct procedures.

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