Copper mine threatens Zambezi national park, Part 1

Pristine habitat: The UNESCO World Heritage Committee called on the Zambian government to re-consider the decision to allow mining in the national park. Photo supplied

Go-ahead for controversial open-pit copper mine in Lower Zambezi National Park has become a political hot potato in the run-up to Zambian elections scheduled for August. Oscar Nkala investigates [

[Posted on 23 Jun, 2021 by Oxpeckers Reporters]

Besides the Victoria Falls, nothing beats Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP) on the tourism menu. Located roughly 180km south-east of Lusaka, the park is a pristine habitat that incorporates the Zambezi escarpment and sustains a huge wildlife-based tourism industry that employs about 1,000 people.

Save for a few run by the state-owned Zambia Wildlife Authority, most tourism facilities in the LZNP are privately owned. Here, the impact of Covid-19 remains a major concern with travel bans in Europe and the United States slashing tourist arrivals to a trickle that can hardly sustain the industry.

However, nowadays tour operators worry less about Covid-19 than what their future will hold when Australian mining company Mwembeshi Resources Ltd opens a large-scale open-pit copper mine in the middle of the national park.

Mwembeshi is the Zambian subsidiary of Australian stock exchange-listed mining company Zambezi Resources Ltd, which entered Zambia in 2003 after being granted a licence to explore for copper in the Kangaluwi area upper escarpment of the LZNP.

Its Zambian copper exploration portfolio includes special grants in Kangaluwi, Cheowa – a LZNP-based joint venture with South African miner Glencore – and the Chingola mine dumps in the Copperbelt.

Zambezi Resources had invested more than US$12-million on exploration operations in three prospect areas of the Kangaluwi special grant prior to selling the permit and Mwembeshi Resources Ltd to an Australian company called Trek Metals early in 2015.

However, the value of the mine and the company was reduced to zero when Trek Metals offloaded it to Grand Resources Limited of Dubai on April 15 2019. The acquisition effectively gave ownership of Mwembeshi Resources (Bermuda) Limited and its mineral portfolio to Grand Resources (UAE) Limited.

Come back and join us for Parts 2 – 10:

PART 2 ” Environmental impact assessment”

PART 3 ” Legal battles”

PART 4 ” Tourism concerns”

PART 5 ” Political precedents”

PART 6 ” Green Party”

PART 7 ” Holes in the EIA”

PART 8 ” Judiciary under scrutiny”

PART 9 ” Questions to ask yourself”

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