Zimbabwe bans mining in national parks after Hwange coal drilling uproar

AN attempt to drill for coal in the bounds of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park has been blocked by the country’s government, said Reuters.

“Mining on areas held by national parks is banned with immediate effect. Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining title held in national parks,” information minister Monica Mutsvangwa told Reuters on Tuesday.

Mines Minister Winston Chitando said state mining arm Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation held the Hwange concession, but then partnered two Chinese firms, Afrochine Energy and Zimbabwe Zhongxin Coal Mining Group.

The Bhejane Trust, which works with the wildlife authority in conservation in Hwange and the Safari Operators Association, had said previously that the two Chinese firms were allocated concessions inside the park.

Bhejane said while on a monitoring mission inside the park with park rangers recently, they intercepted the two companies’ workers conducting exploratory drilling.

“Parks arrested them and turned them over to the police. However, they soon reappeared with a permit giving them the right to carry on in the park with exploratory drilling,” Bhejane said in a statement.

AfroChine official Pardon Kufakunesu denied exploring in the game park. Zhongxin could not be reached for comment, said Reuters.