Zimbabwe has banned coal mining in its national parks to prevent environmental degradation. The country reversed its decisions to permit a Chinese firm to mine coal at one of its national park, Hwange.
The move to ban coal mining came after some protesters took the government to court to prevent coal mining in parks. Before this, the country had given two firms a license to mine coal in Hwange, the biggest national park in Zimbabwe.
Hwange national park homes over 40,000 elephants and several species, which includes the endangered black rhino. For a while now, coal has been mined in this national park and this can result in the degradation of the environment.
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On Monday, the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) had warned that the Hwange park would soon become a place for land clearance, geological surveys, road building, and drilling if coal mining continued.
After a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the ban on coal mining with immediate effect.
Steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining titles held in national parks.nformation Minister Monica Mutsvangwa
Mining along most river beds has also been banned, a decision that would affect local gold miners and small-scale Chinese firms. China is a major investor in Zimbabwe.
The Chinese firms had made plans to explore for coal in the park in partnership with the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.
Environmentalists had raised concerns about coal mining in national parks, especially in Hwange, claiming that it would devastate wildlife, affect tourism negatively.
The government finally agreed with environmentalists and announced the ban. This decision would likely affect relations between China and Zimbabwe. Both governments have been aware of the sensitivities around conservation and both parties wouldn’t have been surprised by the outcry.