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Fears of cyanide poisoning at Upper Ncema Dam

Fears of cyanide poisoning at Upper Ncema Dam

There are fears of cyanide poisoning at Upper Ncema Dam due to mining activities at Alice Farm in Umzingwane District, reported NewsDay.

According to the Bulawayo City Council’s latest report, a heap leach pad is set to be constructed at Alice Farm in the Umzingwane District near Upper Ncema Dam.

Heap leach pads facilitate the extraction of precious metals (such as gold, silver, copper, or uranium) from ore through the use of a leaching solvent (e.g., cyanide or acids) which is sprinkled onto the ore heap.

According to the report, the proposed pad increases the risk of accidental spills or leaks into one of Bulawayo’s sources of drinking water. Reads the report:

The proximity of the proposed pad to the Upper Ncema Dam increases the risk of accidental spills or leaks, which could lead to the contamination of the water body.

Cyanide is highly toxic and poses a serious threat to aquatic life and human health. The potential long-term damage to the ecosystem and the local communities cannot be ignored.

Environmental concerns associated with heap leach facilities revolve primarily around failure to contain process solutions within the heap leach circuit and their potential release onto the receiving surface and subsurface environment, with resultant impacts on the health of people, livestock, and ecosystems.

The report also says the applicant for the heap leach pad bypassed the crucial step of obtaining necessary approvals from relevant authorities, including the Environmental Management Agency. It adds:

Immediate action is necessary to address this critical issue and ensure the protection of both the dam and the well-being of the people.

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