Sable Chemicals, Zimbabwe

Description

Sable Chemicals is the sole manufacturer of ammonium fertilizer in Zimbabwe. The company has become the first to implement a Clean Development Mechanism project which aims at reducing the emission of nitrous oxide. The company is also the biggest consumer of electricity in Zimbabwe and it has announced that it is diversifying from hydro-electrolysis to coal gasification. The coal gasification project defeats the clean development mechanism since the magnitude and impact of carbon emission from the power generation process is likely to be more devastating than nitrous oxide emission. The company has made it clear that it is resorting to coal gasification as a cost cutting measure, having been switched off by the power utility company ZESA over a 20m debt in 2011. It is against this background that environmental activists feel Sable Chemicals is pursuing its economic interests at the expense of the environment and the local communities. Although the company has invited tenders for environmental impact assessment in compliance with the Environmental Management Act, there are fears that coal gasification will seriously contribute to global warming through carbon emissions. For more details read the ejolt blog here: http://www.ejolt.org/2012/09/the-economic-and-environmental-costs-of-sable-chemicals/

Basic Data
NameSable Chemicals, Zimbabwe
CountryZimbabwe
ProvinceMidlands
SiteKwekwe
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)REDD/CDM
Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Chemical industries
Agro-toxics
Specific CommoditiesCarbon offsets
Chemical products
Ammonium Fertilizer
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsWhen operating at full capacity Sable Chemicals require 115 megawatts, equivalent to the size of a power station, to fire its plant. The CDM project foresees 473,759 metric tonnes CO2 equivalent per annum of reductions.

Project Area (in hectares)26300
Level of Investment (in USD)Not known
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population60,000 - 100,000
Start Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesSable Chemicals Investments from Zimbabwe
Chemplex Corporation Ltd from Zimbabwe
Relevant government actorsEnvironmental Management Agency, Agricultural tehcnical and Extension Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development, Ministry of Energy and Water Resources Development, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource Management
International and Financial InstitutionsUnited Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change/CDM (UNFCC)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCenter for Natural Resource Governance, Center for Civil Society (UKZN) ccs.ukzn.ac.za/‎
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Potential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesContinued use of hydro-electrolysis

Use of other forms of clean energy such as wind and solar instead of coal gasification

Diversification to organic manure in agriculture
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Sable Chemicals has close links with government and has been bailed out by government in the past as it is viewed as critical to agriculture. The CDM proposal has already been approved by government despite the fact that there was no consultation with the local community. There are strong suspicions that the EIA to be conducted may be a mere formality to fulfill the requirements of the law. if this happens then the coal gasification project will negatively affect the environment for many decades to come and yet having passed the EIA test as environmentally friendly.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Environmental Management Act

A6.AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH ACT ACT 18 05

AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ACT ACT 18 01

FERTILIZERS FARM FEEDS AND REMEDIES ACT ACT 18 12

NOXIOUS WEEDS ACT ACT 19 07

INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS ACT ACT 26 02

References

N/A

Links

EJOLT website
[click to view]

Newsday, 'Sable Chemicals require $200m for gasification plant'
[click to view]

Media Links

N/A

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ContributorFarai Maguwu
Last update08/04/2014
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