Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Reporter
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has defended the charging of “high” special grant fees for miners to access mineral rich claims within its camps saying the money is meant to reclaim the environment and control rampant illegal mining.
The authority said this in the wake of a complaint by small scale miners who are arguing that the US$4 000 is beyond their reach.
In a statement to The Herald Finance & Business yesterday, ZimParks public relations manager Tinashe Farawo said the authority was granting the mining permission begrudgingly.
Mr Farawo said ordinarily, the authority would have preferred a tranquil and natural environment for the country’s wildlife but the need to partake in improving social lives through employment creation had led to the mining compromise.
With an estimated 350 000 people partaking in small scale mining activities, directly and indirectly, the sector has over the past years grown to become one of the main sources of livelihood in the country.
“Over the years, there has been a lot of illegal mining activities within the protected areas known as national parks,” said Mr Farawo, “. . . the authority then found it necessary to regularise some of the mining operations in parts of the three parks namely, Matopos, Chegutu and Umfurudzi.
“We are not getting any meaningful proceeds from these operations hence the need to charge some fee so that we can rehabilitate these areas after mining because the miners are either unwilling to do so or they don’t have the capacity.
“We have been facing challenges in terms of stopping these illegal activities due to manpower shortages and to date some of our officers have been attacked by these illegal miners. Without doubt our mandate is wildlife conservation not mining but because mining touched one of the SDGs on improving social lives through creation of employment, we can only restrict them where there are already mining,” he said.