Bulawayo — Government has cancelled a special grant to a mining company that wanted to mine coal-bed methane gas in the Gwayi-Shangani dam catchment area after concerns were raised that the venture would contaminate water.
The Mines and Mining Development ministry late last year gave Liberation Mining Company a special grant number 4977 to do prospecting work for coal and coal-bed methane gas in the area.
The dam is seen as the backbone of Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) which could provide the panacea to perennial water shortages facing the country's southern region.
The MZWP has been on the drawing board since 1912 but has, up to today, failed to take off due to financial constraints.
However, concerns were raised by the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management Samuel Sipepa Nkomo that the mining venture would affect dam construction and contaminate water with toxic waste and oils.
Mines and Mining Development minister, Obert Mpofu, at the time, maintained that the mining project was a major milestone for the region's growth, an argument dismissed by Nkomo.
Nkomo last week told Standardbusiness that his ministry, had managed to convince cabinet to cancel the special grant to Liberation Mine.
"I am glad to say that the mining project is now history.
"There is no way that project could have gone ahead since it was likely to result in water pollution.
"The much needed water to ease shortages was going to be contaminated with cyanide," Nkomo said in an interview on Thursday, adding that his ministry was ready to help Liberation get another grant.
Nkomo said his ministry got support from the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to stop the coal-mining project to avoid polluting water expected to solve Bulawayo's perennial water problems.
He said his ministry was "worried by the fact that a company has been awarded a special grant for purposes of exploring and subsequently mining coal and extracting methane gas.
No comment could be obtained from the head of Liberation Mine, Rainor Robinson about the latest turn of events.
Concerns had also been raised late last year about how the firm obtained a clearance certificate from the Environmental Management Agency.