Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Environment Management Agency (Ema) has indicated that it will put stringent conditions to ensure Liberation Coal Mining’s mining activities do not hamper one of the country’s long-awaited water infrastructural development project, the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
Ema board chairperson Ambassador Zenzo Nsimbi said the agency had given Liberation Coal Mining strict conditions to adhere to as a way of ensuring that their coal extraction activities do not lead to the pollution and contamination of water at the imminent Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
The firm is one of the 20 entities which were awarded a Special Grant by the Government to explore and extract coal and coal bed methane gas in the Hwange-Lupane area in 2010.
“Liberation Mining has an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate and the EIA was given with certain conditions.
Those conditions were that they should mine in any other area within their Special Grant with an exception of a particular area, which is within the high water levels for the dam,” said Amb Nsimbi.
He said failure by the mining concern to adhere to set conditions was likely to lead to the dam being affected by acidic mine drainage in future.
“They are mining next to Gwayi-Shangani Dam site and the floodline for the Gwayi-Shangani Dam comes through a certain portion of Liberation Mining’s mine and they have been asked not to mine in that area for fear of acid water,” said Amb Nsimbi.
Acid mine drainage (AMD) refers to the outflow of acidic water from a mining site. In most cases, this acid comes primarily from oxidation of iron sulfide, which is often found in conjunction with valuable metals.
Acid mine drainage is a major problem with many hardrock mines, including almost all mines where the metal ore is bound up with sulfur (metal sulfide mines). A significant number of coal mines also suffer from acid mine drainage.
He said the agency was aware of the economic impact the Gwayi-Shangani Dam had and would guard against having the project being jeopardised.
“Can you imagine if that dam will be turned into acid water, that will be a disaster because it’s being forecast that the dam will supply Bulawayo, Masvingo including the northern part of South Africa and it will be topped up by water from the Zambezi River if its levels are lower. We don’t want to jeopardise all that investment which has been put in. We have given them an EIA and said mine out of this dam water level,” said Amb Nsimbi.