By CHARLES MUSONDA
The people of Luangwa district have welcomed government’s decision to allow mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Feira Member of Parliament, Emmanuel Tembo, has said.
And wildlife conservationist, James Chungu, says there is no problem with mining in the Lower Zambezi because most of Zambia’s mineral resources are in game parks.
Addressing journalists in Lusaka yesterday, Mr. Tembo said the people of Luangwa district are celebrating government’s decision as it will have a positive impact on their lives.
Mr. Tembo said the people are also happy that mining in Lower Zambezi will be undertaken under strict adherence to environmental standards based on the latest environmental impact assessment report.
He said Luangwa is one of the oldest districts in Zambia but it has remained underdeveloped and poor despite its potential and endowment of mineral resources.
“The district does not even have any single industry and therefore, unemployment rates are high and this has led to high poverty levels currently standing at about 80 percent.
“Thus, we the Luangwa people, are in dire need of the mine which will create direct and indirect jobs for our people who have suffered for a long time,” Mr. Tembo said.
He said according to the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) adjustments and conditions, the mine will only cover one percent of the national park and allegations that the whole area will be converted into a mining site are a misrepresentation of facts. Mr. Tembo said the mine is about 40 kilometres from the Zambezi River and there is no way it will pollute the water resource.
Meanwhile, wildlife conservationist James Chungu says mining in Lower Zambezi should be used as a pilot project to determine how best mining and wildlife can coexist.
Commenting on government’s decision to allow mining to continue in the national park, Mr. Chungu said the component that mining operators will put money in conservation of wildlife is encouraging because with heightened poaching in the area, wildlife species are greatly endangered.