The Zambian government recently made a controversial decision to grant a licence to Zambezi Resources Ltd for copper mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The action triggered a hullabaloo that has no signs of abating, what with a court injunction granted to environmental groups to halt the process for the moment. Although I am a very fierce critic of the the current Patriotic Front government, this is one of the few things they have done right, even if it is for totally selfish reasons. The main argument given by opponents of the project is an environmental one (ie that mining activities will destroy the beauty of the national park and reduce its tourism value). There are also arguments on pollution from the mining process. My observations:
1. Have the people opposed to this project produced any figures of how income generated from tourism in Lower Zambezi compares with projected income from the mining? The park collected about $600,000 in 2011. Compare that to the revenue that will be collected when the planned half a BILLION Dollars is invested.
2. The mine will only use up 245 square kilometeres out of 4,092 (6%). Why are people acting like it is the whole park? Tourism Minister Sylvia Masebo gave the most dishonest argument in her submissions to the parliamentary committee on tourism and arts by claiming that Government risks losing safari fees amounting to over K84 million and photographic revenue worth over K9 million if mining is allowed in the national park (about $17 million in total). How does the usage of 6% of the land conceivably translate into such a loss?