Residents drag council to court over Chinese miner

MUTARE residents have dragged their local authority to court for allowing a Chinese quarry mining company, Freestone Mines, to operate in the sacred Dangamvura Mountain.

The United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust cited Mutare city and Freestone Mines as respondents, respectively, in an application filed on Thursday through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Mutare City Council has leased its 6,5 hectare stand situated on Dangamvura Mountain to the Chinese miner for a 10-year period.

According to the lease agreement, the company will pay an annual fee of US$7 557.

Residents have since blocked the mining venture citing environmental concerns after the miner started operating without an environmental impact assessment certificate.

“The court has been asked to declare as illegal and invalid the lease agreement entered into by City of Mutare and Freestone Mines as it offends the law and does not represent the interests of the residents of Mutare,” part of the application read.

“The first respondent (City of Mutare) entered into a lease agreement with the second respondent (Freestone Mines) on August 30, 2021, but the terms and conditions of the lease agreement are so clearly and manifestly unreasonable and uneconomic for a sensible person or right-thinking person representing public interest to agree to such.

“It appears the first respondent never exercised its mind to the issues affecting environment rights of the residents. A few hundred metres from the intended quarry site exists an old and abandoned quarry mine site that used to be operated by a local company, but was abandoned when its effects were felt by residents of Dangamvura.

“There are those within our organisation and within Mutare who believe that Dangamvura Mountain is sacred. Such views should not be wished away.” Newsday.

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