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Kangaluwi Copper Mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Twenty years after granting an exploration licence, the Zambian government has accepted the proposal for an open pit copper mine – the Kangaluwi project - in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park.


 In June 2021 the Zambian government has given the green light  to  the proposal for an open pit copper mine – the Kangaluwi project - in the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park. The project could set an important precedent for the future development of its mining sector; that of mining activity within protected areas [1]. The proposed mine is the first in Zambia which involves a foreign-owned company, Zambezi Resources Limited,  to develop a large-scale mining project inside Zambias national park. In 2003, the Australia-based company Zambezi Resources Ltd  was granted an exploration licence of 240sqkm in the Lower Zambezi National Park and established a subsidiary company, Mwembeshi Resources Ltd registered in Bermuda. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Kangaluwi Copper Mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
State or province:Lusaka Province
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Kangaluwi Project is surrounded by ambiguities regarding its technical details. First of all, the Environmental Impact Statement submitted by Zambezi Resources Ltd refers to four different pits. The main pit at Kangaluwi, and three satellite pits at Kalulu, Chisawa, and Imboo. The EIS provides inconsistent estimates for the mine’s life expectancy, ranging from 3-4 years, 8 years, 20 years, or up to 25 years, sometimes referring to only one pit, multiple, or up to all 4 pits. Furthermore, the EIS failed to include the scope of the whole project as it does not include any resource statements, mine plans, considerations of tailings, waste rocks, or the additional infrastructure necessary to operate the mine and connect the pits such as roads[1][14]. This leads to a grave understatement of the economic and environmental impacts of the mine [1].

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Project area:24,500
Level of Investment for the conflictive project494,600,000 [1]
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:20,000-30,000 [7]
Start of the conflict:16/03/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Zambezi Resources Limited from Australia
Mwembeshi Resources Limited from Bermuda
Relevant government actors:Zambian Wildlife Authority
Zambian Environmental Management Agency
Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Zambia Community Based Natural Resource Management Forum
Zambian Institute of Environment Mangement
Zambia Climate Change Network
Chalimbana River Head Waters Conservation Trust
Green Living Movement
WWF International
Conservation International
OXFAM Australia
Action Aid
IMPI Zambia
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Goba people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Violations of human rights, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Proposal and development of alternatives:There are few alternatives since the go-ahead has been given by Zambia's High Court and its ruling upheld by the Court of Appeals.
If the pressure exerted by local, international NGOs and civil society organizations, together with politicians which have openly opposed the mine persists, there might be hope to re-open a legal case against the mine, or at least require a new and thorough environmental impact assessment.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the long legal battle against Mwembeshi Resources Limited spearheaded by David Ngwenyama and 5 NGOs, it seems that since June 2021 the company has received the green light to continue with the project through an extension of the validity of the Environmental Impact Assessment. According to one source, David Ngwenyama has reached out to the Zambian Envrionmental Management Authority to negotiate with the company a proposal for biodiversity offsets and a program for environmental and social monitoring if the mine should proceed as planned [2].
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[11] Musukwa P. (2020) Ministerial Statement on Status of Kangaluwi Copper Project in Lowe Zambezi National Park by the Hon. Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Musukwa, MP
[click to view]

[12] High Court of Zambia (2019) Vincent Ziba and Ohers v. Attorney General and Mwembeshi Resources Limited. October 17th 2019
[click to view]

[13] Zambia Wildlife Act (1998)
[click to view]

[15] Zambia Wildlife Act (2015)
[click to view]

[16] Court of Appeal (2021) David Ngwenyama v Attorney General and Mwembeshi Resources Limited
[click to view]

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

[1] Leigh K. (2014) Evaluation Report: Kangaluwi open-pit copper mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park.
[click to view]

[9] Mukwakwa, N. (2020). Conflict between mining project and environmental protection: analyzing NGOs’ legal mobilisation against of mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park. Masters Dissertation
[click to view]

[2] Africa Geographic (2021). Lower Zambezi copper mine given the go-ahead. June 23rd 2021
[click to view]

[3] Nkala, O. (2021). Copper mine threatens Zambezi national park. June 23rd 2021
[click to view]

[4] Steyn, P. (2014). Lower Zambezi National Park Mining Project is "Fatally Flawed" says Report. December 11th 2014
[click to view]

[5] Lusaka Times (2019). RB joins KK in opposing Mining in the Zambezi National Park. November 1st 2019
[click to view]

[6] LusakaTimes (2021). Lower Zambezi Large Scale Mine Project to go ahead after Appeal is dismissed. February 28th 2021
[click to view]

[7] Petition (n.d.). Save Zambezi, Safe Zambezi.
[click to view]

[10] WWF Zambia (2019). WWF Zambia Response to the High Court Ruling on Mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park. October 28th 2019
[click to view]

Other documents

[8] Zambia CBNRMF (2014) Press Statement
[click to view]

[14] Zambia CBNRMF (n.d.) Policy Advisory Note on the Proposed Kangaluwe large scale copper mining project
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Pietro Venturi, [email protected]
Last update05/01/2022
Conflict ID:5659
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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