The City of Mutare has directed a Chinese Company called Freestone Mines (Pvt) Ltd 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.
Under the confines of a 10-year lease agreement seen by NewZimbabwe.com, Freestone Mines will pay a paltry US$7 557 annual fee to the council in order to conduct its quarry stone mining operations.
Council is accused of failing to consult residents regarding the establishment of a quarry mine and Freestone Mines courted residents’ after it started operations without going through an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Residents have since demanded council relocate the Chinese miner to a new site far away from residential areas and water distribution pipes.
In a statement, Mutare City Council said they have ordered the company to cease operations until providing evidence that it has met the terms of the lease agreement. Reads the statement:
Council has since directed Freestone Mines to stop any operations forthwith until they have either met the conditions of the lease agreement or, in the event that they have already met the conditions until they have presented to council evidence of the same.
Meanwhile, speaking on Friday during a full council meeting that was held at town house chambers, Mutare Mayor Blessing Tandi said:
I think that most probably there is a need for us to engage stakeholders over this burning issue.
It is wise for us to engage before we hold a press conference. We must engage all stakeholders so that they will have an appreciation of the development being spearheaded by council and after that meeting, we will then give a press statement.
Mutare City Acting director engineering services Tonderai Sango confirmed during the full council meeting that the Chinese miner had breached the lease agreement. Sango said:
The EIA has not been done in line with the lease agreement and it is a cause for concern for us as council. After realizing that the investor had started preparatory works, we crafted a letter signed by Town Clerk compelling the lessee to stop their operations until EIA has been finalised coupled with approval from city engineer.
Freestone Mines director Ruoxin Qi apologised to residents saying his company had already halted all preparatory works until due procedures are finalised.