The High Court of Zimbabwe on Tuesday ordered the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) to stop diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa with immediate effect until it has been granted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate.
The High Court order comes after ZCDC was dragged to court by community lobby group, Marange Development Trust (MDT), supported by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA).
MDT filed a court application in February this year seeking a court interdict to stop ZCDC from operating without an EIA as prescribed by law.
In terms of section 97 of the Environmental Management Act, as read with the First Schedule of the Act, all mining activities cannot commence without the issuance of an approved EIA certificate. ZCDC had argued in its notice of opposition papers that it should be allowed to continue mining operations in Marange pending the approval of the EIA report submitted to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) in 2016.
However, Justice David Mangota said ZCDC had approached the court with dirty hands because it was fully aware of the legislative provisions.
“The first respondent is hereby interdicted and ordered to desist from conducting any mining operations in Marange District until it has conducted an environmental impact assessment process in accordance with the law and obtained an environmental impact assessment certificate from the second respondent,” Justice Mangota said in his ruling.
ZCDC was also ordered to pay costs of the suit. Deputy Mines minister, Fred Moyo told The Source he was not aware of the judgement. “I am surprised, the management of ZCDC should have known and abided by the law,” he said.
ZCDC was formed after President Robert Mugabe kicked out eight mining firms operating in the Marange fields last year, consolidating their assets and operations into a single firm.
At least two of the closed mines, China’s Anjin and Mbada Diamonds, which government wanted to take up 50 percent shareholding in ZCDC, are contesting the asset seizure in the Constitutional Court while a third, Jinan, pulled out of the country in April this year.
The miner expects to produce 2,5 million carats of diamonds this year after acquiring equipment for its state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company. Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said last month that ZCDC had produced 1, 039, 925 carats in the five and a half months to June 18 this year, against 961, 000 carats produced in the whole of 2016.