By NATION REPORTER
SIX trucks loaded with about 200 metric tones of Manganese Ore have been impounded by a combined team of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment.
Ostensibly, all the trucks intercepted and impounded were coming from a mine which was closed by ZEMA in September last year for non-compliance to the Environmental Management Act No. 12 of 2011.
A team of officers from the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment comprising the Forestry and Meteorological Departments, and ZEMA is in Central Province to inspect manganese mining and mineral processing facilities, forest reserves and meteorological infrastructure.
During the spot monitoring of manganese processing plants in serenje, the Minister of Green Economy and Environment Eng. Collins Nzovu, was happy with the improvements in the compliance levels of some of the Manganese Processing Plants in the district.
He commended those complying and urged others to adhere to the environmental regulations to promote sustainable economic development and create employment for the local people.
Mr Nzovu however noted with concern that there are still a lot of illegal mining activities in Serenje District despite the continued sensitization programs the Ministry has embarked on to the manganese mining facilities in the province.
“Members of the public may wish to know that Serenje has become a hive of illegal mining activities leading to pollution that has affected land, water, air and human health.
This is evident by the current situation at Southern Africa Ferro Alloys Limited where 28 employees were found with a strange disease (manganese poisoning). If this is left unchecked, it may retard economic development which the country has achieved,” Mr Nzovu said. Mr Nzovu was however glad to note that the source of the manganese poisoning that affected the workers was traced and Government, in collaboration with the manganese mining companies was doing everything possible to prevent the reoccurrence.
Mr Nzovu said in a quest to reduce pollution and damage to the environment, the manganese processing plants have implemented measures such as stopping the use of charcoal in manganese processing and the installation of the requisite pollution abatement equipment on their processing plants.
He said the Manganese mining companies had also installed continuous online and real time air monitoring equipment and were providing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to employees as well as putting in place of measures to suppress dust emissions around the processing pants.
I, therefore urge the manganese mining facilities to emulate what the manganese processing plants are doing. It is now a mandatory requirement that all manganese mining and processing facilities must comply by ensuring that all the employees must be tested for manganese levels in their blood every six months. My Ministry would like to stress that the well-being of employees and the environment is of the utmost importance and will continue to enforce the law and those found wanting shall be prosecuted,” Mr Nzuvu said.
And speaking when he met the commercial farmers at Silverland Farm in Nansanga Farming Block in Serenje District, Mr Nzovu encouraged Commercial Farmers to work with Government to increase food production for local and the regional market.