Tragedy: there WILL be large-scale, open-cast copper mine in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia - latest development

Lower Zambezi copper mine given the go-ahead

The plan to develop a large-scale, open-cast copper mine in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park seems set to go ahead.

Nestled on the northern banks of the mighty Zambezi River, opposite Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools, lies the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. It is one of Africa’s most pristine wilderness areas – remote, unspoilt, and spectacular.  For years dedicated individuals and organisations have been fighting against the proposed Kangaluwi mine, but the final appeal was dismissed in February 2021.

Mwembeshi Resources Ltd holds the licence for the mine, and the proposed mine site would cover 12km2 (1,200 hectares), situated between two seasonal rivers that discharge directly into the Zambezi River.

After close to a decade of delays and obfuscations, the High Court dismissed the case on a legal technicality in favour of Mwembeshi in 2018. The final appeal to the Court of Appeal of Zambia was dismissed in a judgement delivered by Justice Ngulube in February 2021, possibly marking the end of any legal challenges open to those looking to stop the mining operations.

The final barrier was the validity of the Decision Letter (and thus the Environmental Impact Statement) granting mining rights. After the ruling in their favour, Mwembeshi Resources immediately applied for an extension of validity. David Ngwenyama, an expert ecologist and one of the parties fighting against the mine, confirmed that the Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA) had granted the extension in June 2021.

The argument that the previous judge had failed to consider the public interest of the matter was summarily rejected.

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