High Court Judge, Justice Charewa on Wednesday 9 October 2019 granted an order in an application filed by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) compelling Zibusiso Sibanda t/a Imani Mine to stop all mining activities he is carrying out at Imani Mine without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate.
Justice Charewa ruled that Imani Mine has to immediately cease mining activities. Further the company has been advised not to use any hazardous substances without a licence from EMA and to fence its mine shafts.
On the 9th of July 2019, ZELA filed a court application for a prohibitory order on behalf of its clients Sithini Ndlovu (1st Applicant), Rhodine Sibanda (2nd Applicant), who are residents of Ultra a high-density suburb near Imani Mine in Gwanda-Matabeleland South. The order was calling on the prohibition of Zibusiso Sibanda t/a Imani Mine (1st Respondent) to cease and desist from conducting any mining activities at Imani Mine without an EIA. The background to the matter is that Imani Mine, the site upon which the First Respondent is carrying out gold mining and processing activities was established in the early 1940s. The mining site was re-pegged by one John Patrick Charles on the 5th June 1997.
Sometime in 2017 Imani changed ownership through tribute agreements from Imani Ventures (Private) Limited to the First respondent (Zibusiso Sibanda t/a Imani Mine). After change of ownership the First Respondent continued to carry out mining activities without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Certificate, a conduct potentially detrimental to the environment and the surrounding community members.
The first respondent uses cyanide in his mining activities while storing it at the mine. Cyanide is a hazardous substance and for one to have it in possession, a licence is a must have. Community members noted that the miner was doing this with a general disregard to the community’s environmental integrity and health as cyanide can poison water supplies, affect farming land and lead to the death of animals and humans if ingested.
The first respondent has not fenced these mining shafts despite having a legal obligation to secure the mining site to avoid endangering the community and its property.
The environmental degradation and pollution caused by the first Respondent’s mining activities coupled with storage and use of hazardous substance is a violation of Environmental rights as provided in Section 4 of the Environmental Management Act as read with section 73 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.