IUCN has received reports of significant prospecting for Copper, Gold and Uranium on the Zambian side of the Zambezi, including Uranium mining planned on the Kafue River. These activities are not within the property but are in areas that are adjacent to it. A letter signed by many international conservation organizations and local community leaders to the Zambian government in early 2009 outlining a range of the concerns, which include direct impacts on protected areas in Zambia, as well as indirect impacts on the Mana Pools World Heritage property. Although the mining efforts are currently understood to be at the “exploratory” stage, stakeholder reports from the invested mining companies and the rapid development of infrastructure in the exploratory sites suggest that full mining operations are imminent, and that some may be developed prior to issuing of production licences. It is reported that community leaders have publicly expressed concerns about the effects of possible contamination by uranium waste by-products which may already be occurring during the exploration stage.
It is also suggested that full Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are not required until after completion of exploration stage activities. Published information indicates positive
results from exploration recorded interests in the
A range of national and international companies with
Mining, and African Energy Metals and Energy, Denison
Resources, Glencore International AG of Switzerland, Lithic Mining and Rio Tinto Zinc. Prospects under consideration are
to include forms the
mining activities that properties boundary.
Additional information is required to make a full assessment of the possible impacts and concerns in relation to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. IUCN notes that the property is listed for aesthetic and biodiversity values. The mid-Zambezi Valley containing the property was considered one of the last areas that is not grossly modified by man. It thus provides a benchmark site for study of the riverine "sand-bank" environment and associated succession and adaptive change, whilst the annual congregation of animals in the riparian parkland along the broad Zambezi is one of Africa's outstanding wildlife spectacles. The area also is one of the most important refuges for black rhino in Africa as well as a number of other threatened species (elephant, leopard, wild dog, and Nile crocodile) and therefore meets criteria (x). IUCN further notes that one of the prospects is reported to be located inside the Lower Zambezi National Park and is reported to be a “world class open pit copper deposit”. Thus this prospect could directly impact on the area that was recommended by the Committee to be considered by Zambia as a potential transboundary extension of the existing property.
b) Threats from hotel development The World Heritage Centre and IUCN received information on a possible substantial hotel development by Protea Hotels, which would have been located on the opposite bank of the Zambezi to the property. Significant concerns were expressed regarding the impacts of the development and the precedent it might also set for increased development pressures. In April 2010 it was reported that Protea Hotels has taken the decision to withdraw its application for development of a proposed hotel in the Lower Zambezi region. Having engaged in a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and taken cognizance of the concerns raised, they decided not to progress, taking the view that further clarity on the matter is needed. Whilst this threat may have receded, it indicates the additional importance of considering tourism plans within the property and the region that adjoins it.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the level of knowledge on the integrity, protection and management of the property is particularly low, with no report having been considered by the World Heritage Committee regarding the property since 1984. It would be beneficial to the property to have the opportunity to provide information to the World Heritage Committee on these matters, considering the scale of challenge that has been experienced by protected area services in the sub-region during recent years. The World Heritage Centre
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 11