Environmental impacts of alluvial diamond mining in the Cuango Basin-Angola and quarrying around Luanda city - Angola

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Francisco, Francisco Sebastiao
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Angolan diamonds have been produced for more than 90 years. Before independence, indigenous people were not allowed to possess diamonds; those caught with diamonds were executed. After independence the new government empowered it's people through issuing licenses to small-scale mining. Over the years, economic necessity has directed thousands of informal small-scale miners (including women and children) into the Cuango Basin, northeast of Angola to search for and to mine diamonds. This has resulted into severe environmental impacts in the Basin. Artisanal mining of diamond in particular has raised a lot of concern about the long-term sustainability of the basin particularly the river systems to hold and sustain the ecosystem. There are already fears that mining has seriously affected aquatic life including wild animals and birds. Similarly those who cannot make it to diamond mining have changed to limestone, sand and gravel quarrying around Luanda City. The mining methods in both cases are relatively simple. However, their environmental and social impacts are complex. They affect laige areas of land and water. The social impact is veiy complex, due to displacement of the local inhabitants by population migration creating social conflict over land.Although environmental management guideUnes exist, Angola's diamond mining and quarrying still face problems in the implementation of these guidelines. Quite often, they are inadequate in as far as implementation of the policies and regulations as the Government does not seem to have the capacity to do so.Furthermore, due to the war in the country the government is unable to effectively coordinate the small-scale mining activities. This has led to illegal mining and the miners have taken advantage of this and are carrying out their activities without due regard to environmental regulations and good mining practices. This has resulted in loss of revenue to the government and retardation in the Angolan Economy. This study therefore outlines the problems in the Cuango Basin and areas around Luanda city where artisanal, small-and medium large-scale mining are taking place. It highlights the environmental impacts and comes out with recommendations that could assist in policy formulation in the country.
Environmental impact analysis , Mining-Angola