China Africa Sunlight Energy has been cleared by the Environmental Management Agency to start work on Zimbabwe’s largest coal mining project at its Gwayi concessions in Matabeleland North, officials said on Monday.
The environmental impact assessment certificate allows the company to start work on its $2.1 billion project which would eventually include a 2,200 megawatt thermal power station, a gas extraction plant and a coal brick factory among others.
EMA director of Environmental Management Services, Aaron Chigona said the certificate had conditions the company must meet.
“They made an appeal to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate then we considered giving them this type of certificate and it needs to be validated because in terms of the environmental law if you give a certificate you have to see if the project can be done. We gave 15 conditions they have to meet,” Chigona told The Source.
Environmental Guardians Services, the company that was contracted to do the assessment said EMA granted the certificate on 20 December last year.
The company’s consultant Michael Montana said China Africa should strictly adhere to the Environmental Management Plan and address issues raised in the certificate, chief among them the need to combat acid mine drainage.
The project has been facing resistance from tourism companies who felt its location near the Hwange National Park would affect wildlife.
The coal mine is expected to produce 300 million metric tonnes of thermal coal per annum. A coking coal plant and a coal washing plant would also be set up to add value and to generate additional income.
China Africa Sunlight Energy is a 50/50 joint venture between Zimbabwe’s Old Stone Investments and Shandong Taishan Sunlight of China.