Chikwawa District Council has issued an order to Lafarge Cement Company stopping it from illegally mining Pozzolana material in the district.
In a letter signed by the Chikwawa District Council Environmental Officer, Ellina Mkandawire, the Council has said Lafarge Cement Company had, since last September, been operating an illegal mine at Nyaika Village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Ngabu.
She said in the letter that earlier this month, communities had notified the office of environment of the mining activities which started in September, 2019 by Lafarge Cement Company based in Blantyre in collaboration with Mr. John Nkhoma.
âOn June 12, 2020, the Council noted that two trucks belonging to Lafarge had ferried six full tracks of Pozzolana to Blantyre in a single day,â the letter reads in part.
Mkandawire said the Council established that Lafarge Cement Company has no license to operate in Chikwawa, circumventing government laws under Mines and Minerals Act, Labour Act, Local Government Act (1998) and Environmental Management Act (2017).
âWe asked the companyâs officials who claimed that they donât own the mine apart from buying Pozzolana from an individual (Mr. Nkhoma). When we quizzed Nkhoma, he said it was just an exploration venture. We immediately issued a stop order notice which will result in legal proceedings if it will not be complied with,â she added.
However, officials from Lafarge Cement Company were non-committal and pushed this reporter to Nkhoma when contacted.
Nkhoma, who owns Chawandama Geo-Consultants, confirmed about the stop order, saying he was carrying out feasibility studies.
âIndeed, a stop order has been issued. However the area is not under Lafarge; I am only carrying out feasibility studies, one of which, is to establish if the materials are suitable for use by the company,â Nkhoma said in an email response.
He claimed that he has a license and bought the land from the villagers who owned it adding that; âI have already submitted an application for small scale mining of the soils and will be interacting with the district council and chiefs once approved,â Nkhoma pointed out.
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