The impact of mining activities on local people and environment: A case study of Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation operations in Chiadzwa, Marange
Makoni, Gumisai Aaron
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Mining is indispensable to the economic development of countries endowed with mineral resources. At the same time the effects the mining activities on the local people and the environment have also been wide spread in these economies. While the contributions of mining in Zimbabwe is adequately appreciated, the impact of mining activities has also received its fair share of criticism especially from the general public. The research investigates the impact of ZMDC mining activities on the people of Chiadzwa as well as the environment. The research adopted a case study model that covered the entire Chiadzwa community. Seven villages and two ZMDC companies were covered for data required for the study. A total of seventy respondents were contacted for relevant data through questionnaire administration. The researcher also carried out field observations in order to verify and supplement the data collected from questionnaires. The research encountered some challenges. Among the constraints faced included the perceived sensitiveness given to diamond data and information. Data collection problems included bias and reluctance to complete questionnaires. The research supplemented data collection through use of field observations which also worked as a way to mitigate data collection problems. The research revealed that mining activities negatively impact the environment as well as the social footprint of the Chiadzwa people. Environment effects emanating from the mining activities include land degradation and pollution. Vast tracks of land which were original meant for farming have now been cleared and made bare as part of the mining process thereby affecting food production in the area. Pollution on the other hand affected mainly the water bodies in the area with Save river being the worst polluted. Mining activities were also found to be a source of social discontent in the Chiadzwa community. Some of the problems included appropriation of land belonging to the local people which severely affected food security within the community. Mining have also impacted negatively on health, altered social relations, created unemployment as well as promoting social ills that included prostitution and crime. vi The ZMDC companies have reacted to the noted effects of their mining activities on the local people and the environment. Their initiatives included reforestation, providing alternative sources of water, employing people from the local community as well as relocating some of the affected people. The initiatives were however considered unsatisfactory, ineffective and inadequate especially given the benefits these companies are deriving from diamond mining. In view of the above, it has been recommended that ZMDC companies should engage the community on issues affecting them in order to come up with more effective ways of solving the problems being caused by mining activities. It is also recommended that companies should honour various promises made to the community that acted as licences to mine. Companies should also ensure that all affected people are relocated to designated areas as well as ensuring that the community benefits from their infrastructure for example electricity.