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BCC blocks gold mining at Umzingwane dam

by Staff reporter
08 Oct 2020 at 06:42hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has turned down a request by a company which wanted to mine gold at the decommissioned Umzingwane Dam and surrounding areas. Umzingwane Dam is one of the city's three supply dams that were decommissioned.

According to the latest council report, Extra Rich Mining Private Limited proposed to partner council in mining gold at the decommission dam while at the same time de-silting it.

Director of Engineering Services Engineer Simela Dube said if the company was granted permission to extract gold at the decommissioned dam, illegal panning activities were likely to increase which could even endanger lives of Bulawayo residents.

Eng Dube said the water body was also going to be contaminated with cyanide largely used by illegal miners in their extraction activities. He said the siltation of the city's dams was not that bad to warrant de-siltation.

"The proposed development would increase impurities in the raw water besides making it muddy which would in turn increase the water purification costs to council. Furthermore, the proposed project would instead increase siltation and reduce the dam's holding capacity. The dam does not have any silt hence there is no need for de-siltation and alluvial mining along Umzingwane River would lead to siltation and reduction in water inflows to the dam," said Eng Dube.

He said such an exercise would worsen the perennial water shortages affecting Bulawayo.

"Mining activities within the dam would exacerbate the perennial water problems of the city considering that mining is also a water intensive activity. It should be noted that the idea looked attractive as gold usually did but the worry is that the proposed project will compromise the water quality and quantity within the dam," he said.

Eng Dube said aquatic life was critical in water bodies especially for human and animal consumption and therefore there were fears that the envisaged technology would disturb the ecosystem.

"It was also noted with grave concern that Umzingwane Dam is pivotal in the pumping stability of water therefore the proposed development would bring a lot of disturbances to the dam lining and would consequently increase seepage."

Health Services director Dr Edwin Sibanda said council has to be careful in making the decision as it could result in the local authority falling short in the service delivery mandate while exposing residents to diseases.

"Water sources are generally 'high security' areas. Opening them to third parties exposes the consumers to pollution and contamination," said Dr Sibanda. The local authority's public relations department headed by Mrs Nesisa Mpofu noted that the water crisis had seriously affected the image of the city.

The department said gold extraction at a supply dam will therefore not be well with residents.

"The water crisis has made a huge dent on our brand and it would be better if we sought to come out of the woods with this matter. Any project at our dams that is not improving the water situation may be seen to be in the wrong spirit. Unfortunately the issue may not be well received by stakeholders," observed the department.

After submissions by the different heads of departments, the council resolved to reject the request.

Source - chroncile