The official Opposition in Parliament yesterday challenged the government to conduct environmental impact assessment in big mining sites before approving the projects arguing that the current system does not help to control the activities.
Shadow Minister for Natural Resources, Tourism and Environment Peter Msigwa made the remark here while tabling the opposition recommendations on the ministry’s budget estimates for 2012/2013.
Msigwa said that environmental impact assessments in big mining sites have been conducted after approving the projects.
“These assessments do not help to control environmental impacts because they do not affect the designing of the projects…the projects like Geita Mine and North Mara have caused great impacts to environment,” Msigwa pointed out.
Msigwa said the official opposition is disappointed by the environmental pollution in Geita Gold Mine and North Mara which has had great health impact on the people around the mining areas.
According to research conducted by Manfred Felician Bitala (2008) and research conducted under the sponsorship of Norwegian University of Life Sciences and University of Dar es Salaam (2009) and Oslo University’s Biology department on Environmental pollution caused by Geita and North Mara mines showed that there were great amounts of poisonous chemicals such as cyanide, mercury and heavy metals in water and soil in residential areas around the mines.
He said according to the findings, wananchi around the mining areas have been severely affected by the chemicals.
Msigwa called upon the government to intervene to rescue the lives of people around the mining areas.
Earlier the government cleared the Barrick North Mara mine, saying there is no scientific evidence that acidic liquids from its reservoirs affected Nyamongo residents.
Tabling the budget estimates for the 2012/2013 in the House yesterday, State Minister, Vice President’s Office, (Union) Samia Suluhu Hassan told the House that after making thorough research regarding health problems and deaths claimed to have happened at North Mara due to pollution of River Tigithe, the government promised to provide its statement on the matter.
She said according to the study by the ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the Chief Government Chemist laboratory, it has been established that samples of water which were taken from various water wells surrounding Nyamongo shows that they had high percentage of heavy metals.
“Also investigation of samples of blood taken from some of the residents in the villages surrounding the mine and livestock, it was discovered that their blood contained high percentage of heavy metals,” said the minister.
Hassan told the House further that the effects that Nyamongo people have experienced might have been caused by the use of water with heavy metals for a long time.
“Literature from various researches in the world suggest that the presence heavy metals in human body can negatively impact the health of the person as it has happened to some residents living in areas surrounding North Mara,” she said, adding, “what has happened in the use of contaminated water with heavy metals originating from natural rocks for a long period of time.”
She said following the discovery of heavy metals in Nyamongo areas, the ministry of health and social welfare in collaboration with the mining company provided clean and safe water by digging deep water wells with little element of heavy metals.