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Safari vehicle with guests in Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia
Tourism is a critical part of the Lower Zambezi National Park © Sharon Gilbert-Rivett
NEWS DESK POST by Sharon Gilbert-Rivett

The High Court of Zambia has ruled that the controversial Kangaluwi open-cast copper mine project will go ahead in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National park, dismissing the appeal against the mine on a legal technicality because the initial legal team that fought the case five years ago failed to file a record of appeal. Read the High Court’s ruling here.

The news is already sending shock waves throughout the Zambian and regional tourism community. The Lower Zambezi National Park is one of tourism’s major economic contributors and the lodges in and around the park employ hundreds of local people, supporting thousands more in the communities on its periphery. The mine threatens this thriving tourism economy and the livelihoods of everyone involved in tourism in the Lower Zambezi Valley. It also threatens to derail Zambia’s recently unveiled tourism growth strategy which hinges on the country’s commitment to protecting its wilderness areas.

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The Lower Zambezi National Park sits directly opposite Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The site of the mine is between two seasonal rivers which flow directly into the Zambezi River. Its tailings dams will be located just a few hundred metres above the valley floor, next to these rivers. The risk of pollution and collateral damage to the environment is high, as is the impact the mine will have on the wildlife in the area.

The licence for the mine is held by Mwembeshi Resources Ltd, but it is still unclear where its owners, Grand Resources Ltd, are based. They are registered in Dubai but suspicions are rife that they are Chinese owned. Unless an appeal is lodged quickly, the mine company will move onto the site and begin the work of clearing it.

Ndumu River Lodge
Sharon Gilbert-Rivett

Award-winning writer and film-maker Sharon Gilbert-Rivett began her love affair with Africa as a child when she lived with her family in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa. She began working in journalism in the UK as a rock music writer in the early 1980s before moving into mainstream journalism, moving back to SA in the early 1990s. She specialises in conservation, sustainable tourism and travel and has also written and produced natural history documentaries and TV series. She consults to the safari industry when she's not writing.