[By Tobias Phiri in Luangwa]
PEOPLE that are condemning exploitation works in the Lower Zambezi by Mwembeshi Resources need to go and see the mine site so that they can speak from an informed point of view, says Dennis Mwanza.
Mwanza, the geological manager for Mwembeshi Resources, says his company is aiming at working with progressive people and will engage in clean mining.
“We are insisting that tourism and mining can co-exist because tourism was never affected the time we were doing our exploration and we did the 86 kilometres road from Great East Road right to site. Tourism never died and the animals never disappeared,” he said.
“So we are saying we can coexist because we have worked together in the past and we are proposing new and innovative ways of mining and treating waste. This will not be unique to Zambia. We want to work with the government, they can advise us on how we can work. We are not enemies of the government or enemies of the people.
We know the development we can bring into the area. This is a resource for the country, come and see where we are, we are in the middle of mountains, its better people speak from the-know.”
Mwanza said Mwembeshi Resources would mine in an environmentally friendly manner.
“We invite people to come and see what we are really talking about when we say we are not here to damage the environment. We are here to exploit in the most environmentally friendly way possible. We won’t just graze and start mining, we will do it in a way that will not affect the animals or tourism and we can work on this with the government. We are willing to work with people who are progressive on the resource,” he said.
“We are approximately 21 kilometres away from the Zambezi River where the animals are concentrated, that is where the lodges are concentrated, we are very far from that valley floor. Here where we are it’s a plateau and most animals don’t get here, only baboons and leopards come during the night. We had six drill rigs at one point during our exploration and there was disturbance of tourism at that time.”
Mwanza said his company had invested over $40 million so far in the project which has large deposits of copper.
“We have done several exploration techniques in this area from mapping to geophysics and soils up to drilling. We have done a total of 96,000 metres of drilling at a total cost of close to $43 million dollars to date,” he said.
“We have delineated a resource of about 46 million tonnes at 0.7 per cent, so one needs to understand that we still haven’t discovered the extent of the strike length. We have only covered 23.8 per cent of the total strike length of the resource. The area has the potential to grow this resource to over 160 million tonnes, that is a huge deposit.”
On the size of the mine, Mwanza disclosed that it covered less than one per cent of the Lower Zambezi National Park.
“The mine does not cover 100 per cent of the park, which is 245 square kilometres. The mine area only covers 9.8 square kilometres and that is 0.03 of the total area of the national park. It’s actually a very small specialised mine. There will be no processing except for floatation, there will be no smelter on site, we use the smelters on the Copperbelt,” said Mwanza. “The company has complied with all the regulations. I was granted the exploration licence around 2005, we were granted an EPB from the then Environmental Council of Zambia. We also worked with ZAWA, [and] the time that we were here the poaching activities had reduced.”