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3 Mar 2022

Donald Nyarota, 263 Chat (Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe: Victory for advocates of environment protection & rights groups pressing for restoration of indigenous value to local heritage as Chinese company cancels quarry mining project

‘Chinese Miner Ditches Controversial Quarry Project’ 23 February 2022

Freestones Mine Private (Ltd), a Chinese mining company, has informed authorities at Civic Centre through a Notice of Cancellation, that it will not advance investment plans at Dangamvura mountain for quarrying activities. In an unprecedented move, Freestones Mine wrote to council informing of its withdrawal from the five-year lease agreement to mine for quarry - in a project which faced public condemnation, at a 6.5 hectare piece of land. Acting Town Clerk, Blessing Chafesuka reported to the Business Investment and Economic Development Committee and head of departments that Freestone would not proceed with the lease pegged at a paltry fee of US7500 per annum.

…"Freestone mines took note of the resistance from different people and stakeholders who are totally against the project. "Freestone Mines Pvt (Ltd) was awarded tender to carry out quarry mining operations for a period of five year. This followed an advert flighted o the 28th of August 2020 Daily News on Sunday, (and) on the 30th of August 2020," reads part of the report. Chafesuka informed the investment committee that in receipt of this notice for cancellation the municipality notified to all head of departments, council recommended the same. Civic society organizations including the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) and other interest group had petitioned council and the Minister of Provincial Affairs Nokuthula Matsikenyeri to stop the deal.

Mhakwe Heritage Foundation Trust director David Mutambirwa said this reversal was justice for advocates of environment protection social justice and rights groups pressing for restoration of indegenous value to local heritage. He said protection of indigenous heritage, species and natural capital is under threat from weak environmental regulations which they are advocating for improvement through ongoing consultations on the review of Environment Management Act. "We recently submitted to the ministry of Environment our concerns regarding protection and preservation of biodiversity as well as the issue of urban mining activities given the recent quarry project agreed by council. "Our submissions impress on the need to seek robust solutions that protect environmental rights, preserve our heritage as well as conserving biodiversity," he said.