Mutare City Council and Freestone Mines last week agreed to cancel the lease agreement that had been granted to the latter for the purposes of quarry mining in the Dangamvura Mountain.
Freestone Mines, through their Harare-based attorneys, Mushoriwa Pasi Corporate Attorneys wrote to the local authority notifying them of the cancellation of the five-year mining lease.
The local government authority had in November last year directed the Chinese Company to cease its quarrying operations in Dangamvura Mountain following an uproar by residents and environmentalists.
Mutare City Council leased its 6.5-hectare stand situated on Dangamvura mountain, which is adjacent to residential areas and key infrastructure.
Acting Town Clerk, Mr Blessing Chafesuka in his report to the local authority’s Business Investment and Economic Development Committee report on Tuesday confirmed the development. Mr Chafesuka’s report reads in part:
Freestone Mines has, through its lawyers, given a written notice of its intention to cancel the lease agreement No MU/S23/19 . . . Freestone Mines entered into a lease agreement with council on the 30th of August 2021 after being awarded a tender to carry out quarry stone mine activities at Stand Number 13415 Mutare Township, Mutare. Freestone Mines took note of the resistance from different people and stakeholders who are totally against the project . . .
Newly-elected Mutare Mayor, Councillor Simon Chabuka also confirmed the development in an interview with Manica Post on Wednesday saying the mining deal had very small benefits for the city in terms of revenue.
He added that the cancellation of the deal is in line with the will of the people who signed a petition against the quarry mine project. Chabuka added:
In terms of the lease agreement, council was liable for the repairs of any damaged infrastructure during the mining process. Miners were supposed to pay about US$7 000 annually as lease fees, with council expected to pocket US$600, which was not going to be enough to carry out repairs on damaged infrastructure.
Chabuka added that the mine is very close to the Dangamvura water pipeline and tanks, therefore, mining operations were bound to cause water problems in the city due to pipe bursts.
He said it was imperative to evaluate, reject, and or adopt future agreements on the basis of costs and or benefits and their impacts on residents’ livelihoods and their health.
Chabuka added that mining operations were also going to result in the destruction of mountains, something he equated to filling the Victoria Falls gorge with sand.
Last week, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister, Honourable Barbara Rwodzi said Government will not allow mining projects that have the potential to affect people’s lives and their health to continue.
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