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Marange diamond mines pollute rivers, Zimbabwe


The Marange diamond fields are an area of widespread small-scale diamond production in Chiadzwa, Mutare West, Zimbabwe. Although estimates of the reserves contained in this area vary wildly, some have suggested that it could be home to one of the worlds richest diamond deposits.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Marange diamond mines pollute rivers, Zimbabwe
State or province:Manicaland
Location of conflict:Marange District
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Other industries
Mineral processing
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Diamonds
Project Details and Actors
Project details

It is hard to have a clear picture of the volume of diamonds mined at Marange. Both the KP civil society representatives and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines were denied mine level data on statistics during separate visits early 2012. However government later revealed that projection of diamond output for 2014 was 14.5 million carats

Project area:200000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project200,000,000 - 400,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:500,000 - 700,000
Start of the conflict:2009
Company names or state enterprises:Anjin Investments from China
Diamond Mining Corporation from United Arab Emirates
Mbada Diamonds from Zimbabwe
Marange Resources from Zimbabwe
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, Environmental Management Agency, Zimbabwe National Water Authority
International and Finance InstitutionsUN Kimberley Process (KP)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Kimberley Process, Center for Natural Resource Governance, Center for Civil Society [UKZN], Southern Africa Resource Watch,, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association,
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
-Raising Awareness among residents and the polluting companies -Demonstrations in suburbs affected by pollution -Demonstrations at the Council Offices and at the premises of companies that are leading in pollution -Engaging local academic institutions for research and publications on pollution
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Air pollution, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Other Environmental impactsUse of generators contributing to carbon emissions
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, 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, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:Companies must stop disposing toxic waste into the river, rather they must invest into technology which prevents pollution
Activists want a complete overhaul of the current Environmental Manage Act to give the agency prosecuting authority and the setting up of an environmental pollution court staffed with judges with environmental law and impacts academic and professional backgrounds. They also want stiffer penalties for environmental crime perpetrators, including suspension and revocation of licences for regular offenders.
Marange workers do not have a union. Their employers have made it difficult for employees to form unions. Instead thew workers are represented by workers committed which are highly vulnerable during times of unrest.
Regarding the labour issues, the proposed alternative is to assist workers in all the diamond mining companies to form a strong labor union that will represent their interests. This diamond workers union will affiliate to Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to give it cover from the umbrella labor body This move will also bring the local diamond workers union into contact with regional and international mine workers, a move that is useful for advocacy purposes
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:No stiff penalties have been enforced on the polluting companies. One of the companies reported on its website that the environmental laws in Zimbabwe are lax, adding that it is cheaper to pollute and pay fines than to prevent pollution. Due to the involvement of state security agents and senior politicians in diamond mining, companies that are polluting appear to be operating above the law.
The companies practice open cast mining, thereby destroying the environment, polluting the air and exposing workers to diseases. At DMC the workers allege that employees who are based at the sorting plant are subdued to huge amount of dust but the Arabic Management has up to now failed to provide protective masks and respirators.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Natural Resources Act

Hazardous Substances and Article Act

Environmental Management Act

Zimbabwe National Water Authority Acts

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Act

Labor Act 2801

Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe Incorporation (Private) Act

Urban Councils Act

Rural Districts Councils Act

Mines and Minerals Act

Regional Town, Country and Planning Act

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(See attached file)


Report on the Scientific Investigation of the Impact Of Marange Diamond Mining Operations on Water Quality in The Save And Odzi Rivers: Including Assessment of the Health, Environmental and Livelihoods Impacts. By Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (attached)

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Other documents

Report on the Scientific Investigation of the Impact Of Marange Diamond Mining Operations on Water Quality in The Save And Odzi Rivers
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Meta information
Contributor:Farai Maguwu
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:283
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