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Zimbabwe: Community leaders concerned about Bikita Minerals' impacts on environment & community; Bikita Minerals responds

Zimbabwean newspapers have raised concerns about Bikita Minerals' alleged reluctance to support community projects and regarding negative impacts of its operations on the community and local environment. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Bikita Minerals to respond. Response provided below.

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Article
19 August 2019

Zimbabwe: Community leaders accuse Bikita minerals of negatively impacting environment, access to water & food

Author: Lithium Today

"Lithium Supply in Zimbabwe", 2017

The Bikita mine is one of the largest lithium mines in Zimbabwe. The mine is located in southern part of the country in Masvingo Province, known for its natural beauty. The Bikita mine has reserves amounting to 10.8-11 million tonnes of lithium ore grading 1.4% lithium and thus resulting in around 0.15 million tonnes of lithium. Bikita mine is run by Bikita Minerals, Zimbabwe’s largest Lithium producer. In 2017 according to sources Bikita Minerals spend around USD 7 millions on equipment upgrade and further geological expansion... According to Zimbabwe’s Financial Gazette, there are major tensions between locals and Bikita Mineral... [The] Financial Gazette states: "The community is accusing management and the mine of failing to comply with the Mines and Minerals Act on environmental issues. They say they have been without clean water for the last two years because rivers were being polluted by discharge of potentially toxic chemicals. A range of artificial hills formed by mine dumps of quarry dust are replacing the original landscape that now has very little vegetation growing. Patches of grass and low bush break the now barren-looking landscape.”

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Article
19 August 2019

Zimbabwe: Local politician raises concerns about Bikita Minerals' failure to contribute to community projects

"Daggers out for Bikita Minerals", 29 Jan 2017

Newly-elected Bikita West member of the National Assembly Cde Beauty Chabaya has said she will meet directors of Bikita Minerals to complain over the alleged company reluctance to support community projects as stipulated by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act... "We are aware that Bikita Minerals rakes in a lot of revenue through exploiting resources in Bikita West but not doing anything for communities. The company must help in the construction of schools, clinics and roads, borehole drilling and rehabilitation. I will engage the company’s directors over the matter. If they are adamant they will risk losing their operating licence,” said Cde Chabaya... Bikita Minerals has the capacity to change the face of Bikita District through engaging in public private partnerships (PPPs) with the Government. “For any company to operate in this country, it gets the mandate from our Government with the understanding that there will be investment. Bikita Minerals which has been operating in the district for many years should comply with the laws of the land,” said Cde Chabaya. Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Cde Shuvai Mahofa said... “Despite introducing [community share ownership trust] CSOT some companies are not giving anything to the communities and we are disturbed. We expect companies to help develop areas they operate in.

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Article
18 August 2019

Bikita Minerals' response

Thank you for the opportunity to respond... Please note that we have responded to the two Zimbabwean newspaper reports in a single document outlining our CSR programmes... Bikita has spent a considerable amount of time and effort with the role-players within Zimbabwe to try and educate them as to the specific mineral (petalite) that Bikita mines and exports, which is NOT the same mineral (spodumene) that is used in the manufacture of batteries... 

Two attached documents that we use widely will adequately cover this:

  1. Bikita Minerals Press Statement (circulated to 23 journalists from all the major Zimbabwe publications during a mine visit in 2018)

  2. A presentation ‘Petalite in the lithium market (April 2019)’

...also attached [are multiple] supporting documents for our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Download the full document here