extractive sector
An open pit mine in the town of Prestea, where Oxfam parter organization in Ghana, WACAM has been supporting the Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea in its efforts to negotiate with a mining company around issues related to air and water pollution, and the proposed expansion of mining operations.

Zimbabwe has many disused gold mines, some abandoned by struggling big mines, and these have become death traps as scores of poverty-stricken people descend on them, usually under the cover of darkness, in search of the yellow metal.

While the artisanal miners have been credited with helping boost the country’s gold output in recent years, calls are growing for the government to formalize such operations.

The country produced a record 33 tonnes of gold in 2018, spurred by increased production from small-scale miners.

However, appeals for safe and legal mining have been rising after the flooding of two gold shafts last week that killed at least 24 people.

Eight other people were rescued alive, after spending four nights underground in neck-deep waters.

Henrietta Rushwaya, president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, urged the government provide land to “formalize activities of illegal miners.”

“Let’s have people forming cooperatives so that they can mine in properly allocated land,” he said.

The government has struggled with funding challenges over the years to equip small-scale miners so that they mine safely.

After the mine disaster in Battlefields, about 100 km southwest of the capital Harare, a government minister has also called for tightening of security at disused mines.

It has since been revealed that the disaster struck when the miners were engaging in unauthorized mining during the night at Rio Zim’s mining location and another shaft that belongs to a private individual.

“The problem with artisanal miners is that they always take risk, for instance Eldorado Mine was closed but they still went in. It’s a huge challenge we have as a country,” said justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.

At least 14 illegal miners died at Eldorado Gold Mine in September last year after a shaft collapsed.

The government ordered the sealing of all access points to the mine following the tragedy, but several other illegal miners died at the mine last month after the collapse of another shaft.

Rio Zim has since issued a statement, warning of the dangers of illegal mining and highlighting the need for concerted efforts to promote safe and legal mining activities in the country.

“It has always been the company’s view that not only is unauthorized mining a violation of property rights but most importantly, it is extremely dangerous and if not controlled, regrettable tragedies such as the current one will persist.

“It is therefore vital that government and the mining industry as a whole work together in promoting safe, legal and authorized mining activities,” Rio Zim said.

Mines minister Winston Chitando said the government will now review the Battlefields mining disaster with a view to changing mining policy and implement a raft of measures to foster safety and formalization of illegal mining activities.

He said formalization of artisanal miners will help the government control mining activities.

Gold is one of the key minerals in Zimbabwe, and generated 45 percent of mineral exports in 2018, up from 40 percent in 2017.

More than 500,000 people are engaged in artisanal gold mining in Zimbabwe, according to the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines. Enditem


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