Locals vindicate Shalom Mining proposal to explore Mana Pools for oil and gas following widespread rage by safari operators

By Phillipa Jaja

Some locals have redeemed Shalom Mining Corporation Private Limited (Shalom Mining) exploration proposal of Mana Pools for oil and gas following widespread condemnation by operators of safari camps charging more than $1,000 a night for the country’s premier wildlife area.

The proposed area falls largely under Hurungwe Safari Area and encroaches slightly into Mana Pools National Park – all of which falls under the Middle Zambezi River which serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Mana Pools/Sapi/Chewore area is one of four World Heritage Site properties in Zimbabwe.

Condemnations have bordered on the fact that mining exploration in the area would ruin a home to a remarkable concentration of wild animals, including elephants, buffalo, leopards and cheetahs.

A local stakeholder, Hemmersbach Rhino Force appealed for prevention of mining exploration in the area calling it a “conservation nightmare,” on their Facebook page.

“We need your Direct Action! Please support Africa Geographic and us in preventing mining exploration in the Hurungwe area and the Mana Pools National Park! Read all about this potential ecological disaster in the article below or directly sign the petition against this conservation nightmare.”

However, some locals dismissed the denunciations in the comments section saying they were hypocritical as they were not addressing issues that lift the ban on ivory and that have resulted to stockpiling and other issues.

“While we all agree & don’t condone mining in Mana Pools or Hwange etc , I think the same energy & anger directed at government ought also to be directed at Cites to allow Zimbabwe to sell its ivory stockpile to unlock funds for the Wildlife conservation budget & finance local communities being killed , maimed , impoverished ( livestock & crops destroyed) & terrorized by wildlife.

“We seem to be more interested in preserving scenery at the expense of the bigger picture of humans’ wellbeing. We need to be consistent & also protect local communities. This call may fall on deaf ears because the conservation groups are based in countries that have slapped sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“Most of the exploration is in Hurungwe. This post is exaggerated. That’s the problem with environmental activists or all activists. Exaggeration.

“Our economy needs the oil and gas in as much as we also need Mana Pools. Let there be a balanced approach

“When you don’t benefit from any development then its destruction. Look at how much land has been destroyed for agriculture and residential sites in all cities but because we benefit then its development.

“I think if they can get oil and gas it’s good for the gas. Manna safari is contributing less to the economy than what oil and gas will do.

“Who has the audacity to stop good mining prospects? The early white settlers could blast with explosives even the most sacred of sites, in quest of any of their missions. Nobody could stop them.”

A mining proposal in 2012 a Zimbabwe-based mining company, Habbard Investments affiliated to Geo Associates to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for prospecting for Heavy Mineral Sand Deposits (HMSD) in the Ruckomechi and Chewore Rivers in northern Zimbabwe fell through after an objections by environmental activists.

However, Shalom Mining has reignited interest as evidenced by a notice in the Zimbabwe Gazette.

“In a notice in the Zimbabwe Gazette dated the 28th of April, 2023, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development revealed that Shalom Mining Corporation Private Limited (Shalom Mining) had applied to explore mining potential in the Zambezi. The exploration license – if granted – will allow the Zimbabwean company access to 130,000 hectares of wilderness habitat,” wrote a local news publication.

In parliamentary debates last week lawmakers asked why the permit was being considered when there is a policy of not allowing mining in protected areas.

Deputy Mines Minister Polite Kambamura said in parliament that part of the application covered an area that wasn’t protected and it had to go through due processes.

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