TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations iii
List of Plates iv
List of Tables v
Executive Summary viii
1.1 Background 1
1.2 Aims and Objectives 2
1.3 Justification 2
1.4 Methodology 3
1.5 Literature Review 4
1.5.1 Environmental Impact of Gold Mining: An Overview 4
1.5.2 Socio-economic Impacts: An Overview 9
1.6 Limitations 11
2. Gold mining in Zimbabwe: an overview 12
2.1 Introduction 12
2.2 Pre-colonial period 12
2.3 Gold mining during the colonial period (1890-1979) 14
2.4 Post-colonial gold mining 17
2.4.1 Gold production 17
2.4.2 Ownership and indigenisation policy 18
2.4.3 Post-colonial artisanal and small-scale gold mining 19
3. Legal framework for gold production 20
3.1 Introduction 20
3.2 Mining titles 20
3.2.1 Prospecting titles 20
3.2.2 Mining licenses 21
3.3 Commentary on the Mines and Minerals Act 23
3.4 Environmental considerations of the Mines and Minerals Act 24
3.5 Indigenisation in the mining industry 25
3.6 Legal reform in the mining industry 26
4. Socio-economic and Environmental Impacts of Gold Mining in Penhalonga 27
4.1 History Gold Mining at Penhalonga 27
4.1.1 Gold Mining in Penhalonga during the pre-Colonial Period 27
4.1.2 Gold Mining in Penhalonga during the Colonial Period 28
4.1.3 Post Independence Gold Mining in Penhalonga 29
4.2 Environmental Impact of Gold Mining in Penhalonga 33
4.2.1 Environmental Impact: Overview 33
4.2.2 Water Resources Degradation 33
4.2.3 Morphological Changes and Loss of Aesthetic Value 37
4.2.4 Biodiversity and Dust Pollution 38
4.2.5 DTZ-OZGEO Rehabilitation of Mining Sites 40
4.2.6 Perception of Environmental Impacts of Shaft Mining at Redwing Mine 41
4.2.7 Environmental Impacts of Small-scale Gold Mining and Gold Panning 41
4.2.8 Other Environmental Considerations 44
4.3 Socio-economic impacts of gold mining in Penhalonga 45
4.3.1 Socio-economic impacts: an overview 45
4.3.2 Economic impacts 45
4.3.3 Social impacts 48
4.4 Ownership of gold production 50
5.0 Discussion and way forward 50
5.1 Discussion 50
5.2 Recommendations 53
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
ASM Artisanal and Small-scale Mining;
AVA Acidification-volatilisation Absorption;
BSAC British South Africa Company;
BSAP British South Africa Police;
CAMPFIRE Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources;
CRD Centre for Research and Development;
CSR Corporate Social Responsibility;
DAB District Advisory Board;
DTZ Development Trust of Zimbabwe;
DTZ Development Trust of Zimbabwe;
ECA Economic Commission for Africa;
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment;
EIR Extractive Industries Review;
ELAW Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide;
EMA Environmental Management Agency;
EPO Exclusive Prospecting Order;
ESAP Economic Structural Adjustment Programme;
GMI Global Mining Initiative;
ICME International Council of Metals and the Environment;
IIED International Institute for Environment and Development;
IMR Institute of Mining Research;
MAB Mining Affairs Board;
MMCZ Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe;
MMSD Minerals, Mining and Sustainable Development;
MRDC Mutasa Rural District Council;
NANGO National Association of Non-governmental Organisations;
OZGEO All Russian Economic Association on Geological Prospecting;
UDI Unilateral Declaration of Independence;
UN United Nations;
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme;
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organisation;
USA United States of America;
UZ University of Zimbabwe;
VIDCO Village Development Committee;
WADCO Ward Development Committee;
WB World Bank;
WBCSD World Business Council on Sustainable Development;
WHO World Health Organisation;
ZINWA Zimbabwe National Water Authority;
LIST OF PLATES
Plate 1: New (light coloured area to the right) and old (light coloured area in
the left-hand corner) dump sites at Redwing Mine 30
Plate 2: An Old Mine Dump being reworked at Redwing Mine Penhalonga 31
Plate 3a:A Satellite Photograph showing the area that has been affected by DTZ-OZGEO Gold Mining Operations in Penhalonga in its first phase of operation. Of note are the large impoundments that are now used as sources for water for irrigation by the mine owners and the large area that is now devoid of vegetation 34
Plate 3b: A middle section also showing water impoundments, loss of river course and
bare ground that needs rehabilitation. Mining has stopped in this area. 35
Plate 3c: A Satellite photograph of the area that is currently being worked.
Note that the river course has been completely destroyed (top right-hand corner)
and the sizes of water impoundments 35
Plate 4:.A Current water impoundment: underneath the body of water is the course of the
Mutare River 36
Plate 5: Water Resources Degradation by Gold Panners in Mutare River 36
Plate 6:.DTZ-OZGEO is not extracting gold from the river bed only, but also from an
extensive area away from the river bed destroying the whole river valley 37
Plate 7: Overburden heap in the background of an impoundment of water. Local
communities fear that these can cause disaster downstream if rainfall is
Plate 8:.An area being developed showing the reeds that will be destroyed
and the overburden in the background and along the fence 39
Plate 9:.Heavy machinery that is used in gold mining is said to cause dust
Plate 10:.xtent of environmental damage due to small-scale gold mining;
light coloured areas show locations where there is mining while slopes
have been burnt to facilitate prospecting 42
Plate 11: A hill slope showing the extent of small-scale mining to the north of
Plate 12: Huge trenches made by small-scale miners on hills to the east of
Plate 13: A veld fire during field work that was said to have caused by small
-scale miners 43
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Sampling sites and sample parameters (after Jerie and Sibanda, 2010)
Throughout history gold production has played an important role in the political economic development of many nations. In Zimbabwe gold mining was the reason why the country was colonised to begin with and it played an important role in political developments in the country. However social analysts doubt whether gold production has played any significant role in the socio-economic development of the local people. Large-scale gold production has been and it remains in the hands of foreign interests with the local people involved in inefficient and unproductive artisanal and small-scale production.
The current project that is looking at the socio-economic and environmental impacts was premised on the observation that, despite the visible wanton destruction of the environment caused by gold mining, local communities are not benefiting from the activity. The large-scale companies unfortunately do not have corporate social responsibility for communities in which they are mining the gold. They are not obliged to assist in the development of the societies in any way. The government on its part seem not to have taken the issue of National Sovereignty over Natural Resources seriously by adhering to the archaic piece of legislation that control mining in Zimbabwe, the Mines and Minerals Act 21:05. Despite the much talked about need for black empowerment, very few blacks are involved in the lucrative gold mining industry.
Penhalonga is a good example of demonstrating the interaction between gold mining, local communities and the environment. All forms of mining, artisanal and small-scale, large-scale alluvial and large-scale underground mining are all represented. Each form of mining has its own social and environmental impacts but focus was large-scale mining because of the presence of foreign interests and the magnitude of the impacts. The aim was to establish the extent of benefit sharing and the reasons for that situation and to explore understanding amongst community members of the issues of environmental degradation.
The project should be seen as exploratory, that sought to establish the need for in depth investigation of certain issues. It is hoped that the information given in this project will be useful as a guide to mining policy reform that promotes benefit sharing with local communities
Goldberg Rindayi Chimonyo
It was an arduous process to collect the field information that is presented here. Until one gets exposed to real situations, one would not be aware of what is on the ground in terms of people’s lives. It was difficult to understand that a large number of people in the Penhalonga/Tsvingwe area living in constant fear, which makes it difficult for them to trust anyone especially those they do not know, but who are asking questions about their way of life. If the following had not helped, it would have been impossible to get adequate information from people: Ms Margaret Makina, Mr. Musiwenyama, Ms Mugombe and Ms Randinyu. There are others who assisted in so many ways but who have not mentioned by name. It is not that your assistance was not important. It was very important and thanks you all.
We would also like to thank staff members at Mutasa Rural District Council who were eager to give the necessary information and also who supported the project. In particular we would like to thank the Penhalonga-Tsvingwe sub-offices for generously giving support to the project.
Our sincere thanks go to all those who were willing to be subjected to several minutes of “interrogation” on the issues the survey was trying to address. Should anyone feel that they were harassed, please apologises.
For such an intense project to be successful there is need for support from many people but there is no support that is needed most than support from family members. Family members, who endured the disturbances caused by the project, thank you very much.
Last but not least, we would like to thank the Centre for Research and Development for providing the necessary funding and logistical support for the execution of the project. There were times when things were so difficult that one felt like downing tools. This did not happen, we all persevered.
Gold production, similar to the mining of previous minerals such as diamonds or platinum, can be a lead factor in rural development and poverty reduction more so in communities residing in areas where there is gold mining. For this to happen, there is need for gold producing companies to apply the doctrines of social responsibility and Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources in communities in which they are mining the gold. The aim of this project was to establish the extent to which companies were sharing benefits with the local communities with the objective of developing advocacy tools to influence policies to those that favour the development of local communities using resources found in their locality. Penhalonga was used as an example in order to authenticate claims.
A review of the legal framework governing gold mining in Zimbabwe revealed that the Mines and Minerals Act 22:05 of 1961 can be the main problem for companies failing to apply the doctrines of social responsibility and Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources. The Act was promulgated in order to protect the minority gold mining interests. The Act, although applauded in some cases, has been criticised for favouring big investor who are invariably foreigners at the expense of the local entrepreneur let alone the local community members. These are discriminated against on financial grounds. Few if any local people are familiar with the provisions of the Act. In addition to failing to provide for issues related to social responsibility and Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, the Act does not adequately provide for the protection of the environment.
If one traced the history of gold production in Zimbabwe, one would find that it was dominated during the colonial era by the white minority as small-scale producers and large-scale producers who were foreigners. During the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), not only were the indigenous people not allowed to participate in gold mining, but they were not supposed to even possess some. There is silence on production quantities during UDI, since gold was used to sustain the economic as the country was under sanctions. Revealing production and export quantities meant revealing companies that were busting sanctions. As far as the relationship with local communities is concerned, mine companies had no social obligations to these communities and the communities lived contently nearby without interfering with mining operations.
The secrecy that shrouded gold mining during UDI made it difficult for anyone who was not involved in the production of gold to know what was happening in the mines. For this there is no information on revenue. Nothing has been written about the impacts of gold mining on the environment.
One would have hoped with the coming of Independence the situation was going to change to allow more indigenous people to participate in gold production. The literature shows that gold mining remained in the hands of foreigners although there was a changeover from overseas multi-national companies to regional and continent investors. Issues of social responsibility and PSNR were not a priority to the government. Civil society has however been trying to bring these issues to the discussion table with the hope that local communities will eventually benefit from resources in their area. That there is need to consider social responsibility and PSNR issues when talking about gold production is clearly demonstrated by what is happening at Penhalonga.
The Penhalonga area is unique in that it has all types of gold mining from gold panning, small-scale, large-scale shaft, and large-scale alluvial gold mining. Gold mining at Penhalonga dates back to the early days of colonialism and was dominated by the Penhalonga and Rezende Mines. These are deep shaft mines. Recently however there has been a new comer DTZ-OZGEO. The company which is doing open cast mining is a joint venture between a Russian company and a Zimbabwean company, the Development Trust of Zimbabwe based in Bulawayo. Using mainly qualitative methods of data collection and through field observation, the study revealed that little has changed as far as the relationship between the local communities and the gold producers is concerned. Community members claimed that they were not benefiting in any way from the establishment of DTZ-OZGEO, which instead has created a number of problems. The first issue was that the company was causing extensive environmental degradation but no one was doing anything about it, pointing out the disturbance of the river flow, destruction of vegetation and the habitat of wild animals and dust pollution. Members of the community pointed out that perhaps the biggest impact was the loss of source of livelihood since a large number of households were surviving on gold panning in the Mutare River. A third area of concern was the increased prostitution and domestic violence since the establishment of the mines.
Lack of consideration about local communities is seen in the fact that the Zimbabwe partner is not from Mutasa Rural District, if the operations were going to benefit the locals but from Bulawayo. One criticism on the policy of black empowerment and indigenisation is that it means transferring wealth to a few who are well positioned politically. Members of the community in Penhalonga are of the opinion that DTZ-OZGEO is more of a political venture than a business enterprise.
The alluvial mining by DTZ-OZGEO has completely destroyed the local ecosystem of the Mutare River and has potential to affect the local hydrology. Small-scale miners have also contributed towards this in no small measure with hill slopes traversed by deep trenches that cause tremendous erosion into Mutare River. In addition the water contamination by the acid drain from the mine dumps at Redwing Mine should also be considered. Members of the community did not consider degradation by small-scale miners and gold panners as environmental degradation because it was done in pursuit of livelihood and that at Redwing because the mining has not affected them.
Despite all issues that were raised including the environmental issues, it seems however that the main issue is finding out how local communities can have an equitable share of participation in the gold mining industry whilst taking care of their environment. It seems one of the stumbling blocks to social responsibility and the application of the doctrine of PSNR is the Mines and Minerals Act which should be either drastically amended or should be replaced by a new one that takes into account the concerns of the local communities.
The study on environmental and socio-economic impacts of gold mining, with example from Penhalonga was premised on the need to establish the relationship between gold producers especially the large-scale producers and the local communities. The aim was to establish the extent to which the local communities were also beneficiaries of the income being generated from a resource that is found in the locality. Since the early 1950s there have been debates on the doctrine of Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources. The doctrine specifies that people living in a certain area have the sole right to decide on how a resource that is found in their area should be used. It is hoped that through this doctrine local communities would become beneficiaries of the mineral resources that are found in the area that they live.
The study intended to establish, not only the socio-economic impacts of gold mining drawing examples from Penhalonga, but also the environmental impacts of gold mining. It is known that all forms of mining have an impact on the environment, but the extent of the impact varies from one type of mining to another. Penhalonga makes a good example to examine these impacts since it contains all types of mining from panning in the Mutare River, small-scale mining, large-scale alluvial mining and underground mining.
Environmental and socio-economic impacts have been extensively commented on in the literature. Most comments has however not been on gold mining in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe very little has been written on large-scale miners’ social responsibility. Very little has also been said about the environmental impacts of large-scale mining. Most criticism on the deleterious effects of gold mining on the environment has been on small-scale miners and gold panners (Jerie and Sibanda, 2010; Maponga and Ngorima, 2003; and Mungoni, 2008).
The study topic has included two areas of study, which are, on their own considerable research areas. There was a need to form a multi-disciplinary team to look at specialist areas of the research topic, the social aspect, the economic aspect and the environmental aspect. The scope of the study was revised so that the available resources would be adequate to complete a rapid appraisal of the environmental and socio-economic impacts of gold mining. The rapid appraisal involved Focus Group Discussions with local community members, members of Makoni Rural District Council and the miners, both small- and large-scale. The study was intended to provide an overview of gold mining and how it relates to local community development rather than an exhaustive statistical analysis of the relations.
The piece of legislation governing gold mining in Zimbabwe is viewed as the best in Southern Africa and many countries have adopted it. The study intended to establish the adequacy or inadequacy of the Mines and Minerals Act Chapter 21:05 of 1961 to address issues of gold producers assisting in local level socio-economic development and environmental protection. In fact, any analysis of the relationship between the gold producers and the local communities in terms of income sharing should start with the legal framework governing the production of the gold and the extent to which the legal framework acknowledges the doctrine of Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources.
Finally, in many cases civil society organisations have been accused for making a lot of noise on issues that did not have substantial backing, weakening their case although the conceptual framework of the issue would have been correct. It is hoped that a study such as this one will inform and provide information for civil society organisations fighting for community empowerment to carry out advocacy work from an informed point of view. The Centre for Research and Development, with sponsorship from Norwegian People’s Aid decided to establish what is on the ground in relation to community benefits from gold producers in various communities in the country. It was therefore hoped that the study would cover an exploration of the global trends in terms of resource ownership and environmental degradation, the historical context of gold mining in Zimbabwe, the legal framework and then examine how Penhalonga gold producers are related to the local communities.
Aim and Objectives
The long-term objective of the study was to develop advocacy tools based on authenticated information that can be used to influence policy makers to establish policies that support the doctrines of social responsibility and Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources. This would enable local communities to decide how they should use the gold resources in their area for their own development. The specific objectives of the study were as follows:
To review the global situation in relation to gold mining and socio-economic and environmental impacts
To trace the history of gold mining in Zimbabwe in order to establish the historical trend of social responsibility and environmental protection
To give a critique of the Mines and Minerals Act Chapter 22:05 to establish its support of social responsibility and environmental protection in Zimbabwe
To establish the perception of members of the local community in Penhalonga on the issue of social responsibility and environmental degradation that is caused by gold production
To come up with recommendations based on integration of international, national and local views on socio-economic and environmental impacts of gold mining with special reference to the situation in Penhalonga.
The study can be justified on several grounds. Zimbabwe was under colonial rule for almost a century during which time the indigenous people were marginalised in all spheres of economic development apart from providing labour. During this time, the indigenous people were not allowed to be involved in mineral extraction of any sort. They were not supposed to have any knowledge of gold production. Because of this, they did not benefit from gold production except indirectly through employment.
Since Independence, there has been a lot of talk about indigenisation of the economy and to establish projects that will develop rural communities. It would be interesting to find out if there has been any change in control and ownership of gold. If there has been such a change, to what extent are the local communities benefiting from the mineral resources found in their area. The existing literature seem to suggest that there was no difference between the way gold miners were given special treatment, and the way they are treated now.
Saunders (2008) pointed out that the only new development in the gold production industry in Zimbabwe after Independence was the replacement of overseas multi-national corporations by regional and continental tycoons. The extent to which this regional take over integrated local community’s developmental needs has still to be established. Hawkins (2009) has commented on the issue of licenses to small-scale gold miners in an effort indigenise the gold mining industry. There is need to find out how the small-scale miners relate to local level community development.
The study can also be justified from the point of view of providing authenticated advocacy information to change the current pieces of legislation that control gold mining and gold trading. Although the Mines and Minerals Act 22:05 of 1961 and its subsequent amendments, including the 1965 amendment has been applauded as the best piece of legislation in southern Africa, which other countries have adopted but it is also said to have weaknesses. The Act has been criticised for favouring foreign investors with a lot of money to invest in mining at the expense of the local communities who do not have enough money that can be invested. The study can assist in the formulation of a new piece of legislation that takes into account local level development needs.
Because of the historical development of gold mining in Zimbabwe, little or nothing has been done to ensure equitable sharing of profits with local communities. People are therefore generally not aware of their rights to natural resources in their locality according to the doctrine of Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources. The study can be justified on the grounds that it will inform the public about the need for gold producers to play an active role in the development of the areas in which mining is taking place bearing in mind that the local people are the custodians of the resource.
Apparently literature has been silent on environmental impacts of large-scale gold production and oversubscribed on the impacts of small-scale miners and gold panning in Zimbabwe. It is shown in many parts of the world that any form of gold production including large-scale production causes environmental degradation (McBain-Haas and Bickel, 2005). The study is therefore justified on the grounds that the exact nature of environmental impact of gold mining will be exposed. This might influence the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to lobby for strong legislation on environmental protection.
Initially it had been decided that standard rural survey techniques of a mix of questionnaire survey and face-to-face interviews would be used to gather both quantitative and qualitative information on the relationship between the gold producers and the local communities. A questionnaire was developed to be administered to members of the community living in the Penhalonga area soliciting information on the following issues:
The extent to which the local communities were benefiting from the gold producers
Whether or not the gold producers had initiated together with the community and implemented any development project
Social effects of gold production in the area
Views on environmental damage
Personal opinion on expected or desired relationship between the gold producers and the communities.
Face-to-face interviews were supposed to be held with Mutasa Rural District (MRDC) to get information on the relationship between the District Council and the gold producers. There was also need to establish the Council’s stance on the doctrine of Permanent Sovereignty and the issue of environmental degradation. Face-to-face interviews were also going to the held with the gold producers including the small-scale producers and the gold panners focusing on the gold production, methods and quantities produced and their roles in local level development, the issue of environmental degradation and land rehabilitation after the gold gets exhausted.
The questionnaire survey and the face-to-face interviews were going to be supplemented with extensive field inspections to establish the extent of environmental damage and any rehabilitation works that might be taking place. Initially it had been decided that water samples would be collected upstream and downstream of the mines for laboratory tests in order to establish the degree of contamination.
Unfortunately not all these activities succeeded. Face-to face successful interviews were held with MRDC, small-scale miners and gold panners. Attempts to interview the management of the large-scale mining companies met with resistance. At DTZ-OZGEO only one person was said to be qualified to respond to questions related to gold production and unfortunately he was reported to be out of the office at every attempt to arrange a meeting to interview him. At Redwing interviews failed because of the appointment of a new manager who had hardly settled in and the transference of senior personnel to Arcturus Mine in Mashonaland East.
Attempts to carry out a questionnaire survey did not succeed right from the beginning with respondents accusing enumerators of trying to have them evicted from either Tsvingwe or Penhalonga Townships.Thus members of the community refused to give individual answers for fear of victimisation but were comfortable to talk about the issues that had been raised in the questionnaire when in a group. Interesting that, even on a face-to-face basis, members of the community could respond to issues but they did not want the information written on the questionnaire. It was for this reason that the researchers decided to change the methodology, from using questionnaires to holding interviews with groups of people rather than individuals.
With the assistance of some members of the community people would be invited to join in discussions about the socio-economic relationship between the gold producers and the communities. In old Tsvingwe discussions were held with at least four groups of community members and the group of teachers being a separate group on its own; in new Tsvingwe discussions were held with two groups only after finding out that most residents of this section of Tsvingwe are new comers, some having been barely a year in the area. In Old West, only one group was interviewed since the residents are also new, some coming from Mutare and others being workers of DTZ-OZGEO. In Penhalonga one group was also interviewed having established the general similarity of answers with the other groups.
The number of people who were involved in the group discussion varied from discussion to discussion. Some groups were composed of around five or so people only, as was the case in the new section of Tsvingwe and Old West but some involved as many as ten or twelve people as in some groups in the old section of Tsvingwe. It later emerged that there was greater interest in the study here because the area has the largest number of small-scale miners and gold panners and this is the reason why they live in consistent fear of being evicted or arrested.
1.5 Literature Review
1.5.1 Environmental Impact of Gold Mining: An Overview
Environmental impact of gold mining has drawn more attention in the literature than any other aspect of gold mining locally, regionally and internationally. It is agreed that all types of mining, from alluvial mining to open-pit mining through to underground mining all have deleterious effects on the environment. Commentaries on the environmental impact of gold mining can be grouped into the following:
Those that have given general environmental impacts of gold mining
Studies that have presented case studies and specific environmental impacts
Those that view environmental impacts of gold mining from a human rights issue point of view
Commentators providing remedial action.
Both formal and informal small-scale mining have received a lot of attention in the literature for two reasons: (i) for its role in poverty alleviation and (ii) because of the alleged negative environmental impacts. The Centre for Development Studies, University of Wales, Swansea (2004) commented on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) world-wide observing that although Asia has the highest number of people involved in ASM, it is Latin America that has drawn most attention in the literature despite having fewer people engaged in ASM. It was also observed that various studies have taken different approaches in studying ASM. For example, a large number of studies have taken a holistic approach that includes the sustainable livelihoods approach (Gilman, 1999; Labonne and Gilman, 1999); others have concentrated on specific aspects of the ASM industry, for example, the environmental consequences of ASM (Straaten, 2000)
The Centre for Development Studies however pointed out that there is a paucity of in-depth studies of ASM communities such as micro-level socio-economic studies, studies that seek to profile the needs of people living within ASM communities or those that consider artisanal mining from the perspectives of those who identify themselves as miners and live within these mining communities.
Focus has been on ASM in Third World countries since this is where activity takes place The availability of literature however does not reflect the magnitude of the activity in any region. As pointed out by Kramcha (2004:4) that geographically the highest number of people involved in ASM are found in Asia but there is little coverage of their activities in the literature. Latin America however which has a smaller number of people engaged in ASM than Asia has received a lot of attention in the literature. Whichever the case however, the commentary on the environmental effects of large scale mining in Third World countries has received disproportionately low attention as compared to the attention on ASM. In fact very little has been written on the environmental impacts of large-scale miners. Both academics and environmentalists in most Third World countries have remained silent on how large-scale miners degrade the environmental.
Among others, those who have given general information on the environmental impacts of gold mining against which one can evaluate the performance of a certain mining project include the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) (2010). The Alliance has pointed out that all phases of gold mining from development, through site preparation, extraction and beneficiation have an impact on the environment. The ultimate environmental impacts however differ considerably depending on the method of extraction and beneficiation. Methods of extraction include open-pit mining which is regarded as the most destructive type of extraction requiring removal of all vegetation and complete destruction of the local habitat and local hydrologic system. The second type of extraction is placer mining which is normally related with the release of gold from stream sediments and floodplains and therefore it is associated with destruction of riverine ecosystems. Underground mining does not involve massive removal of the over-burden and therefore this is considered a less destructive method of extraction, creating a network of tunnels underground only. The final method of extraction that was mentioned is reworking of inactive or abandoned mine dumps and tailings as a result of the introduction of better beneficiation methods, which determine the nature of the environmental impact. Different beneficiation methods, whether physical or chemical have different environmental impact. In the final analysis however, the general environmental impacts of gold mining that one can expect at any mining site are as follows:
Water pollution pointing out that the most significant impact of any mining project is its effects on water quality and availability
Atmospheric pollution including particulate matter and gas emissions (noise and vibrations were included as part of atmospheric pollution)
Impact on wildlife including habitat loss and fragmentation
Impact on soil quality.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (2010) commented exclusively on the impact on the environment of open cast mining, and health and safety issues that should always be considered in the development of open cast mining. The Bank agrees to a large extent with ELAW (2010) on the significant environmental aspects affected by open cast gold mining. The following are some of the impacts that are emphasised:
Degradation of water resources: this occurs due to the following (i) drawdown of groundwater levels leading to drying up of wells, (ii) diversion or damming of surface water courses, (iii) contamination of water by uncontrolled site discharges, (iv) contamination during gold processing, (v) generation of wastes – top soil and overburden and hazardous wastes from gold processing
Land use and biodiversity: affected by excavation of area, dumping of waste materials on land away from the site of interest and infrastructure development
Dust: generated by blasting, excavation, moving equipment, traffic on unsealed roadways, loading and unloading operations, stockpile stacking, beneficiation processes (crushing, grinding, compaction and drying
Fires and explosions: where there is use of explosives and coal
Geotechnical stability: landslides, rock falls, face slumping or land collapse
Specific aspects of environmental impact of gold mining were discussed for example by Ogola, Mitullar and Omulo (2002) who gave details of environmental impacts of artisanal gold mining in the Migori Gold Belt in Kenya. The authors attempted to quantify the various additives to the environment and their health effects. They reached the conclusion that the concentration of heavy metals, Pb (lead), As (arsenic) and Hg (mercury) at mine sites, stream sediments and water far exceeded the recommended values of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The concentrations of Pb and As in the Macalder stream were 13.75mg L-1 and 8.04mg L-1 respectively against the WHO recommendation of 0.05mg L-1 for both metals. Poisoning from lead was particularly emphasised pointing out that it does not breakdown naturally but it impairs the nervous system, it affects foetus development, and it affects the IQ of infants and children.
Jerie and Sibanda (2010) agree with Ogola et al (2002) that international standards are being neglected in gold mining operations. Examining the environmental effects of effluent disposal at Tiger Reef Mine in Kwekwe they found out that the chemical composition of the effluent did not meet the standards set by WHO which Zimbabwe follows (Table 1) and that this has dire health implications. McKinnon (2002) who examined the environmental effects of gold mining waste disposal at Likir Gold Mine, Papua New Guinea also share the same view pointing out the health issues associated with cyanide disposal. McKinnon (2002:7) pointed out that, “The most common environmental problems are likely to result from the chronic contamination of surface and ground water by lower concentrations of cyanide and related breakdown compounds. Such chronic releases are much more difficult to notice and evaluate than are acute high concentration spills that are often associated with rapid, observable deaths of aquatic organisms.” Indeed, when examining environmental impacts of gold mining, one should not focus on those impacts that are felt immediately but one should also consider the long term and creeping impacts that can be devastating. Two issues were raised that have immense implications on gold mining and the environment in Penhalonga:
International mining operators operate under different environmental standards in developing countries where their host government has extreme economic pressure
A Code of Practice (such as the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment in Zimbabwe) is not enough as this may simply be a way of persuading shareholders, the public and officials that everything is “right” but when everything is “wrong” on the ground. There is therefore need for independent outside monitoring of performance and activities of the mining company.