Australian exploration and mining firm, Zambezi Resources, defended its mining project in a national park in Zambia Tuesday, saying it will be the “cleanest, greenest and safest copper mine ever built.”
The Australian firm has been given a go-ahead by the Zambian government for its 494-million-U.S dollar open-cast project in Lower Zambezi National Park, situated southeast of Lusaka, capital of Zambia, despite resistance from environmental lobby groups.
Last month, the Zambian government overturned a decision by the country’s environmental regulator, the Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA), which rejected the project on grounds that it may have negative environmental implications on the park.
Over 100 environmental lobby groups have since filed with the court an injunction request to have the project halted.
But David Vilensky, Zambezi Resources’s chairman, said the company would not do anything that may jeopardize the park’s environment and the company will work with local people and environmentalists to ensure the conservation of the park.
“Zambezi Resources is a responsible Australian company and understands the importance of conserving the environment, particularly in a sensitive area such as the Lower Zambezi National Park. We share the concerns of those who have so vocally expressed their opposition to the project,” he said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.
“For this reason, we are keen to engage with local environmentalists to ensure we can achieve a win-win situation: bringing jobs and prosperity to local communities while protecting, and indeed enhancing, the flora and fauna of the area,” he added.
The project, he said, will create an initial 500 jobs for people living in the surrounding area, adding that traditional leaders in the area have backed the project.
“The construction and development of the mine is subject to strict conditions issued by ZEMA to ensure total compliance with the objectives of the Environment Management Act of 2011, which will be monitored and supervised by ZEMA,” he said.
Of the 4,092 square km covered by the Lower Zambezi National Park, less than 6 percent, or 245 square km, is under the mining license, said the statement.
The statement also claimed that the mine site lies in remote and inaccessible part of the park.
The Australian Stock Exchange-listed company has so far spent 60 million dollars on its mining project in Zambia.