A report by the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) has revealed that Chinese investors, who now dominate Zimbabwe’s troubled chrome mining sector, have violated environmental laws, leaking poison into Ngezi River and threatening its delicate aquaculture, the environment and downstream communities.
Ngezi River flows through the chrome-rich Midlands province which is dominated by Chinese investors.
The Johannesburg headquartered Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) said the scale of environmental hazards posed by Chinese chrome mining had reached alarming levels as some had even started operations without Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).
SARW said in its report that in Zimbabwe mining companies generally, the Chinese and Russians included violate sections of the Mines and Minerals Act on land reclamation. The report also looked at Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The report added that there are specific cases of the disregard of the environment by Chinese enterprises. In the Midlands province, Chinese companies are illegally mining chrome without the requisite EIA reports. It further revealed that one of them had set up a chrome washing plant on the banks of Ngezi River in contravention of the country’s environmental laws.
SARW’s report said thousands of families in both existing and abandoned mines were at risk following the contamination of rivers. An old report by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) said at least 6 000 families in decommissioned mines across the country were in danger of contracting diseases as toxic chemicals from abandoned shafts have contaminated their water sources and the environment.