Press Statement: Restless Development Zambia Supports Halt of Mining in Lower Zambezi National Park

Restless Development Zambia Stands with Young People in Support of Halt on Mining in Lower Zambezi National Park

2nd June 2023

Restless Development Zambia, a youth-serving organisation committed to empowering young people and promoting sustainable development, unequivocally expresses its unwavering support for the recent decision by the Zambian government to halt mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The move comes after a decade-long battle by impassioned activists and dedicated conservationists to protect this pristine wildlife sanctuary and renowned tourist attraction from the detrimental impacts of mining.

The excavation for a large-scale open cast copper mine within the heart of the Lower Zambezi National Park has caused grave concern among local communities, environmentalists, and conservationists. The approval granted to Mwembeshi Resources Limited to commence clearing work raises alarming questions about the political influence exerted in the decision-making process.

The Lower Zambezi National Park plays a critical role in the wider Zambezi basin, serving as a shared resource that contributes to the economic, environmental, and social development of southern Africa. It is home to an extensive array of wildlife, including 124 species of animals, 403 species of birds, and 54 aquatic animals. The proposed mining activities pose an existential threat to this fragile ecosystem and risk inflicting irreversible damage upon the biodiversity and natural heritage of the park. Being a transboundary asset, as a country, we have a duty of care to manage the resource in the interest of all communities concerned, including those from our neighbouring countries. 

Numerous studies, including the comprehensive findings of the Lower Zambezi Tourism Association (LZTA), have starkly highlighted the negative consequences of the mining project. Meticulous economic modelling suggests that the mine is fundamentally economically unviable and would result in a net loss of jobs for local communities, as well as significant financial losses for the first seven years of operation. Moreover, mining within protected areas could have a profoundly detrimental effect on international aid investments, which Zambia heavily relies upon.

Restless Development Zambia wholeheartedly acknowledges the importance of development for the nation but firmly believes that it should never come at the expense of environmental preservation and the well-being of local communities. Striking a delicate balance between economic growth and sustainable practices that safeguard our precious natural resources for future generations is of paramount importance.

We know that young people possess an innate understanding of the imperative need to protect our natural heritage for future generations. On this issue they stand in resolute support of responsible and sustainable development practices that prioritise the well-being of our environment and communities. We firmly believe that the halt of mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park is a monumental step in the right direction; towards  transforming Zambia into a prosperous and equitable society through inclusive and sustainable economic growth through the promotion of  environmental sustainability through investments in renewable energy, climate-resilient agriculture, and conservation as desired in the 8th National Development Plan.

We vehemently condemn any attempt to discredit those who oppose the mining project, including baseless accusations of spreading untruths or engaging in political machinations. It is essential to foster a constructive dialogue that genuinely addresses the legitimate concerns raised by the various stakeholders involved, ensuring that the voices of local communities, environmental organisations, and conservationists are not only heard but respected.

In unity, young people from across Zambia are joining forces to amplify their support for the recent decision by the Zambian government to halt mining activities in the Lower Zambezi National Park. The excavation for a vast open-cast copper mine within the park has evoked profound concerns about the irreversible damage it could inflict upon the environment and the well-being of local communities.

The decision by the Zambian government to halt mining operations in the Lower Zambezi National Park exemplifies a resolute commitment to responsible land-use practices and the protection of our invaluable natural heritage. Restless Development Zambia wholeheartedly applauds this decision and urges the government to ensure the stringent monitoring of compliance with environmental regulations and the full involvement of all stakeholders in decision-making processes pertaining to land use and resource extraction.

As an organisation deeply committed to representing and empowering young people, Restless Development Zambia remains steadfast in its dedication to supporting initiatives that promote sustainable development, environmental conservation, and the holistic well-being of communities across the country. We call upon the government, civil society organisations, and all relevant stakeholders to work collectively, in genuine collaboration, to ensure the long-term preservation of the Lower Zambezi National Park and other similarly invaluable natural areas.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact:

Nathan Musonda

Communications and External Engagements Coordinator

About Restless Development Zambia:

Restless Development Zambia is a youth-led organisation dedicated to empowering young people and promoting sustainable development. We work in partnership with young people, communities, and stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities faced by young Zambians. Our goal is to enable young people to actively participate in decision-making processes and contribute to positive change in their communities.