Operations of SINO iron ore mining company in Kabale district have been suspended by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for dumping iron ore into a wetland and discharging effluent into River Kiruruma.
In a statement released on Wednesday, NEMA explains that the suspension follows an inspection of the facility on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, spearheaded by the NEMA Western Regional Office in Mbarara, together with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, and officials from Kabale district local government.
“Findings indicate that the company breached the conditions of approval in their Environment and Soda! Impact Assessment Certificate. The facility did not have a proper waste management mechanism, it did not have an adequate drainage or surface run-off control mechanism to evacuate water from the facility, and was not fenced off as required,” reads part of the statement.
It adds that the company did not undertake an independent Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for its Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) as required, and was operating an inadequate ETP leading to the direct discharge of wastewater into River Kiruruma.
A temporary closure notice has been issued to the company and the facility will not be allowed to resume operations until it has aligned its production processes to the conditions of approval in its ESIA certificate.
According to NEMA, unregulated discharge of wastewater and inappropriate dumping of iron ore waste can have deleterious impacts on ecosystems and the environment, including contamination of food chains, compromising air and water quality, and can a. be a public health hazard.