BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
CHINESE firm, Afrochine Smelting (Pvt) Ltd has filed a lawsuit against Earthlink Minerals (Pvt) Ltd for carrying out mining operations in Mavhuradonha Wilderness in Muzarabani district.
Afrochine cited Earthlink and Mines minister Winston Chitando, who it challenged to tell the court the truth regarding ownership of the controversial mining site.
The Zimbabwe chrome smelting giant has been accused of looting minerals from a protected area, damaging the main padlock at Mavuradonha Wilderness to gain entry and moving its excavators and other heavy machinery.
The Mavhuradonha Wilderness is a 600-square kilometre wildlife resort and has been maintained in its natural state since 1988 when the government designated it a protected area under the Communal Lands Act.
This ensured its protection from mining, agriculture and any other activities.
However, Afrochine has maintained that it is the rightful owner of the resort, but denied allegations of engaging in mining activities as reported.
The Chinese firm is seeking an order barring Earthlink from mining chrome in the wilderness and that it be declared the rightful owner of the claim.
Afrochine said Earthlink and Chitando should clarify that the mining company did not carry out any mining operations.
The company said it only discovered that Earthlink was mining on its claim on July 24 this year.
The mining company said EarthLink’s actions impacted negatively on the environment as well as on their reputation as the media widely reported that Afrochine was responsible for the damage.
In his founding affidavit filed on behalf of the company, Qedisani Mlambo said Afrochine was still assessing the impact of mining on the environment.
“What is disturbing to the applicant is that the respondent purported to be Afrochine Smelting and they gained access to the wilderness reserve without proper consultation with the local leadership,” Mlambo said.
He accused Earthlink of causing serious environmental degradation and disturbing wildlife.
“This is a clear case of mistaken identity where Earthlink’s actions are attributed to the applicant because the mining location in question is owned by the applicant.”
Mlambo complained that Earthlink had apparently done nothing to dissociate itself from the applicant when allegations of unsustainable and harmful mining arose.
Afrochine says it has a legal right to chrome in the location and the actions of the respondents are prejudicial to the company’s legitimate mining rights and business in general.