Tinaani Nyabereka/ Branton Matondo
Shurugwi-Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Mangaliso Ndlovu on Monday (July 11) this week launched the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) rehabilitation programme of open pits in the Midlands at Edward Farm.
The rehabilitation programme is being stirred by Unki Anglo American, Washrock and JRG Gordard as efforts to encourage miners to rehabilitate open shafts and make the areas usable.
The open pits were opened by illegal miners who have been embarking on various illegal mining activities around the province.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch and the belated World Environment Day commemorations at Msasa Primary School in Shurugwi, Ndlovu said EMA is however going to also decisively deal with anyone caught engaging in illegal mining operations.
“We see much harm has been done to the environment through illegal mining activities and this has greatly affected our water bodies and left the public in danger to open mining pits. Pursuits cannot be acceptable in any society and my ministry, through the sector regulator, EMA will henceforth decisively deal with such deviant operators and in doing so will work with the Joint Operation Command (JOC).
“Indeed there shall be strict enforcement of Environmental Impact Assessments in the interest of protecting our mother Earth while also promoting economic growth in line with our National Development Strategy 1 aspirations,” said Ndlovu.
He further said it is important to note that the global economy is now tied to biodiversity.
“I urge the public to embrace the opportunities and value of the natural environment and not work against it. Let us live in harmony with nature, for indeed we only have this one earth. Without action, exposure to air pollution beyond safe guidelines will increase by 50 per cent within a decade and plastic waste flowing into land and aquatic ecosystems will nearly triple by 2040.
“While our individual consumption choices do make a difference, it is collective action that will create the transformative environmental change we need, so that we can advance to a more sustainable nature, where everyone and everything can flourish. I therefore implore communities to sustainably utilize natural resources taking into consideration that future generations would also want to benefit from them.
“Our actions such as stream bank cultivation, destruction of wetlands, deforestation and wanton land degradation through among others, illegal mining activities are detrimental. The Great Dyke is in Midlands province which makes it rich in mineral deposits. However, the unsustainable extraction of these minerals especially gold and chrome has resulted in massive land degradation. If we continue on this destructive pathway, the coming generations will only inherit the dangerous pits, unusable farm land and contaminated water bodies, just to name a few.” he added.
Ndlovu further urged the Midlands community to adopt sustainable mining principles for the benefit of current and future generations.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Larry Mavima said the province had about 30% of its landscape being classified as open grasslands which spells out how vulnerable it is to wild fires.
He added that there is need to ensure that rehabilitated mined areas are back to their usable state for the benefit of other environmental related activities.
The celebrations were held under theme ‘Only one Earth-Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature’.