7 March 2005
MBABANE - Miners might as well forget about exploring the green-chert mineral at Malolotja.
The Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Sudmmbuzo Diamini, says that further exploration of the mineral would actually rob the country of major benefits.
Diamini said that the green-chert available in the site is worth more to the country where it is than if it was to be extracted.
He pointed out that although the mineral if mined would be quite substantial, it is not worth it for the country if it is mined.
He argues that any returns from mining it would only be short-term as opposed to long-term benefits that the country would receive should the mineral be left untouched.
"The damage would be more than the benefits we could get if it can remain as it is," he said. Supporting his argument, Diamini said this is due to the fact that the area is in a very prominent part of Malolotja.
He pointed out that the area has a higher diversity of plants and rare species of birds which the country would stand to lose if the mine would be explored.
Furthermore, Diamini explained that as the mineral is situated within the Malolotja Nature Reserve, the law prohibits any form of mining within the area.
"When we tackled the issue it became clear that there are people who lied to His Majesty King Mswati in that there is no game reserve where the mineral was situated," he said.
As a result he pointed out that the King was made to sign a faulty lease agreement allowing a company to mine the green-chert, fortunately it was stopped from pursuing its mining objectives.
The green-chert, in Malolotja is unexplored due to controversies surrounding the mine.
The Director of Mines in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy Richard Maphalala once stated that this mine should have long been operational, as an investor has been secured.
He stated that there have been no changes on the green-chert mine issue adding that they need to be in contact with the original investor.
Maphalala explained that the mine became difficult to explore mainly due to complaints that it is situated within a nature reserve at Malolotja.
However, Maphalala disputed this saying that it was never true.
Times of SwazilandGcebile Ndlovu