Zimbabwe: Sustainable Sand Mining the Way to Go

For thousands of years, sand and gravel have been used in the construction of roads and buildings. Sand mining is one of the major drivers to land degradation in Zimbabwe’s urban, semi urban and rural service centres centre as well as growth points, mainly due to construction activities.Most of the miners of sand and clay do so from designated points and do not rehabilitate the land afterwards.

The abandoned sites are characterised by severe land degradation, with huge open pits which are a death trap to human beings and animals.

Having noted these trends the Environment Management Agency has put in place measures to ensure sustainable land mining.

Impacts of sand mining

Indiscriminate extraction of sand results in the following:

Land degradation

Abandoned pits are life threatening to humans and animals, both wild and domestic as they have acted as death traps.

The open pits allow the collection of water resulting in the breeding of mosquitoes.

Loosens the bed and banks of public rivers leading to siltation.

Destruction of agricultural land thereby threatening to livelihoods and food security.


According to Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 for EIA and Ecosystem Protection Regulations;

“No person shall excavate, remove, possess or licence the removal of clay or sand deposit for commercial purposes without a licence by the Agency.”

The extraction of sand should be carefully monitored in order to prevent land degradation that may ravage the aesthetic value for the environment.

Ecosystems protection is everyone’s responsibility; therefore, anyone who wishes to excavate sand or clay should apply for a licence from the Agency.

The applicant must first consult the local authority for a designated piece of land from where the extraction can be done.

The local inspectors together with the applicant then come up with a detailed excavation and Environmental Rehabilitation/Management Plan for the site for consideration by the Agency before extraction.

There are two types of licences;

Sand extraction license.

Sand transportation license.

Sand extraction licence

The applicant completes an application form available on the Agency’s website or at your nearest EMA office.

The form should be endorsed by the local authority, lessee or land owner. A standard extraction point should measure 20X20 metres for sand extraction and an Environmental Management Plan should be produced and submitted to any EMA office together with the completed application form. A nominal quarterly fee is paid by the applicant per extraction point for licence renewal.

Sand transporters licence

The sand transporter completes an application form and submits it together with copies of:

Certificate of fitness of the vehicle.

Photographs of the front and rear of the vehicle.

Vehicle registration book.

National identity card of the vehicle owner.

Certificate of incorporation for companies.

The sand transportation license is renewed quarterly for a nominal fee per truck.

Review process

After the submission for the application, the Director-General may consider the application or may require further information desirable for sustainable utilisation of the resources before a licence can be issued or rejected.

However, if the applicant has been granted the certificate and has failed to comply with the stipulated requirements of the environmental rehabilitation plan the Agency may cancel the certificate.

In addition; anyone who contravenes the law shall be liable to a fine that not exceeding level 14 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both.

Report all illegal solid waste dumps and sewer bursts to EMA and your local authority.

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