STOP NEW COAL MINING TO SAFE-GUARD LIVING ORGANISMS INTO WATER BODIES


By Andrew Kuchonjoma – Songea

Coal mining at Ruvuma Region in Tanzania is a silent killer of living organisms into water bodies such as in Lake Nyasa. 


The government of Tanzania should be congratulated for discontinuing transportation of coals by using ships, boats and any kind of transportation across Lake Nyasa in order to conserve and control water pollution and to safeguard living organisms into water bodies. 

The government stopped transportation of coals after detecting that, minerals when touching water, tends to create poison which kills living organisms into water including fish which were found dead and float over the water surface at Lake Nyasa in 2013 

Most of Tanzanians do not know that, coal mining has negative impact in environmental aspects if its extraction conducted locally or without regarding precautions on environmental aspects. 

Before, in Ruvuma Region if not in Tanzania, nobody thought that coals can lead to damages or death of living organisms into water bodies till the episode occurred when fish started to die and float over the water surface of Lake Nyasa in 2013. 

Majority around Lake Nyasa were not aware if the incident caused by coals which dropped into water by ships during transportation of it across the lake towards Malawi and Itungi Port at Kyela in Mbeya Region. 

As a results most of people said the incident was due to the rapid movement of current water underground of the Lake and others believed that was superstition done by some aged people around the Lake Nyasa and some of them argued that was poison immersed in Lake Nyasa by the Government of Malawi who claimed that Lake is belongs to them. 

So, that rumors was spread all over the Ruvuma Region and fishermen stopped fishing temporally and people in Ruvuma disagreed to eat fish from Lake Nyasa because of their wrong perceptions. Remember by that time the government of Tanzania and Malawi under President Joyce Banda were not in a good term due to misunderstanding of the country’s borders. 

Therefore, I went to investigate at Lake Nyasa and it was true that fish were dying and float over the water surface while besides Lake Nyasa at Ndumbi area I found a bulk of coal which has been set aside ready for transportation. Luck enough, at the ground of the Lake, I found pieces of coals which was fallen down during shipping and the water looked black in colour. 

Hence, I went back home at Songea town and I made a call to geologist Eng. Emmanuel Nyamusika who was working at MANTRA company dealing with Uranium extraction at MkujuNamtumbo Ruvuma in order to get a scientific clarifications of coals. 

Nyamusika said, during extraction of coal there other types of minerals found within, such as Pyrites and coal mining activities have exposed rocks containing the sulphur-bearing mineral pyrite. Pyrite reacts with air and water to form sulphuric acid which cannot support fish communities in water such as in Lake Nyasa. 

Apart from Pyrites there are Coal sludge, also known as slurry, is the liquid coal waste generated by washing coal. It is typically disposed of at impoundments located near coal mines, but in some cases it is directly injected into abandoned underground mines. Since coal sludge contains toxins, leaks or spills can endanger underground and surface waters. 

One of the most serious environmental concerns associated with coal mining is the production of acid mine drainage. Coal mining exposes sulfur-bearing minerals to atmospheric oxygen and water. Pyrite is the principal source of acid production in coal spoils (Rose and Cravotta, 1998). Concerns associated with acidic coal-mine drainage include sedimentation of chemical precipitates, soil erosion, and loss of aquatic habitats in contact with waters with high metal loads (Williams et al., 2002). A bimodal distribution of coal-mine drainage has been observed, with acidic (pH 3–5) and near-neutral (pH 5–7) pH values (Brady et al., 1997). 

So, up to the moment the bulk of coal which has been set aside Lake Nyasa is still there and during the rainy season coal flow towards Lake Nyasa although the National Environmental Monitoring Council (NEMC) this year (2018) ordered the TANCOAL Mining Company to remove it immediately for the sake of rescuing living organisms in Lake Nyasa and people along the lake who use water for home consumption. 

When a Journalist of this article asked Manager of TANCOAL Mining Company David Kamenya said it is true that the bulk of coal are still there but there are in process of removing them because they are waiting for the bidder to start removing them and sand back to the camp of TANCOL Company at Ngaka Mbinga in Ruvuma Region.. 

The government of Tanzania must cut across to make sure that, the bulk of that coal found at Ndumbi area are removed as soon as possible for the sake of rescuing the life of people, aquatic organisms, flora and environment in general. 


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