ZAWA bans aerial mining surveys

Lumwana mine

THE Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) has suspended aerial mining surveys in Mweru Wantipa National Park in Luapula Province, which were scheduled to be undertaken by a mining company.
Geotech Airborne Limited has been contracted by Mass Mining Contractors to do aerial mining surveys and explorations in the ZAWA protected area without relevant prior authorisation from the statutory institution, aviation and security agencies.
ZAWA public relations officer Readith Muliyunda confirmed the suspension in a statement yesterday.
Ms Muliyunda said after receiving the alert about the matter, ZAWA officers swang into action and managed to ground the company’s plane in Kaputa before it took off for the scheduled exercise on October 18.
“Mass Mining Contractors has since written a letter to ZAWA director-general Xen Vlahakis complaining that they have paid US$314,000 to Geotech Airborne for the said aerial surveys and that for every day that the plane is grounded, they are paying an additional $10,000,” she said.
Ms Muliyunda said ZAWA wanted to emphasise that any mining company that failed to get all the relevant authorisation needed to undertake such an exercise, especially in national parks and adjacent to strategic installations, would only have themselves to blame.
“Proper procedure to obtain relevant authorisation from all relevant institutions must be adhered to. Even in certain cases where any such explorations are permitted in wildlife protected areas, ZAWA has to determine the terms and conditions under which a permit may be granted.
“But at the moment, due to large volumes of applications from mining companies wanting to conduct mining in our protected areas, ZAWA is discouraging the issuance of any permits at all,” she said.
Ms Muliyunda said any person or company wishing to undertake explorations, mining, prospecting works or any other activity in wildlife protected areas could not go ahead without obtaining proper authorisation from the ZAWA head office.
Meanwhile, ZAWA has recovered 800 Kilogrammes of assorted meat of puku, hippo and waterbuck, and one shotgun believed to have been in the possession of poachers in Mumbwa Game Management Area.
Ms Muliyunda said the items were obtained after an exchange of fire between ZAWA officers and the armed poachers.
“There were no casualties on both sides, the poachers escaped and are currently on the run. The incident occurred at the weekend and was reported to Itezhi-tezhi Police where a docket has been opened,” she said.