Bulawayo residents fear for their lives as Chinese quarry mine blasts crack their houses


Residents in Pumula North suburb, Bulawayo, are living in fear that their houses might collapse at any moment due to the ongoing blasts from a Chinese quarry mine operating in their area. 

Residents in Pumula North suburb, Bulawayo, are living in fear that their houses might collapse at any moment due to the ongoing blasts from a Chinese quarry mine operating in their area.

The Hualin Quarry Mine, which was granted a 10-year lease by City of Bulawayo, has been accused of causing cracks to the houses and schools near the mining site. 

The residents have also complained of power outages and noise pollution caused by the heavy blasts, which they likened to an earthquake.

An investigation by CITE in partnership with Zimbabwe Environmental Law Society Association (ZELA) revealed that some of the houses and schools close to the mine have developed cracks that could compromise their structural integrity. 

One of the affected residents, Mrs Ngwenya, said her house now has two cracks that appeared after the mine started operating. 

"Before this mine my house was perfectly fine. Every time it explodes my house shakes. The house will be shaking as if the miners are underground," she said.

Another resident, Concilia Moyo, said she has lost five glasses due to the blasts. 

She added that the Chinese company promised to assess the situation in a community meeting last year, but they have not fulfilled their pledge. 

"We had hoped to see development, but we are not even getting anything whether schools or clinics," she said.

Another resident said the blast caused significant damage to her property including the door frame, windows and her precast wall.

"I now fear that the wall might collapse any time. It started as a small line but now it has even destroyed the door frame. Another crack has expanded to the electricity lines, and I fear that it might explode anytime," she said.

Celani Webster Sibanda, another resident, highlighted that the other challenge in this malaise is the fact that the Chinese company is located 100 metres away from a power station and every time there is a mine blast, residents lose electrical power.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) Organising Secretary for Ward 17 Nqobizitha Moyo said the Chinese company came during the Covid-19 era and there were no consultation meetings with the residents. 

He also alleged that there was no transparency within the local leadership, as some of them were benefitting from the mine. He said other wards, such as Magwegwe, were also affected by the quarry mine blasting activities.

City of Bulawayo Corporate Communications Manager, Nesisa Mpofu, confirmed that the city has received complaints from the residents through their area councillor. 

She said the local authority does not have a specific number of the affected households yet. 

She also confirmed that they have received reports from other surrounding suburbs, such as JW Mthimkhulu Primary School in Magwegwe, where an interdepartmental committee was sent to investigate. 

"A report of findings is yet to be compiled," she said.

Mpofu said if there are damages in the households, the mine operators are expected to compensate the affected residents as per the conditions of the lease agreement.

CITE reported that Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Bulawayo Provincial Manager, Sithembisiwe Ndlovu, said they are currently seized with the second consultations in the area, following that the mine’s first application has expired.

Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary, Pfungwa Kunaka, confirmed that the Ministry of mines received the report of Hualin quarry mine.

In November 2022, Pumula North residents raised serious concerns over the activities of Hualin Quarry Mine, saying although the mining had commenced, they were not seeing any benefits, adding that the mine posed significant harm to the environment, their properties, and their overall well-being. 

“Since the Chinese company started mining in 2021, my house has developed a huge crack on one of the bedrooms wall. The more the blasts, the more the cracks continue to widen. We have tried to engage both the council and the Chinese mining company but to no avail,” said Josphat Moyo at the time, a resident.

Another resident, Nomatter Thodlana also aired the same sentiments.

“When the mining activities started, residents held a meeting and resolved that we cannot have a quarry mine here because it is closer to our homes. Now, we are losing our properties due to the constant blasts from the quarry mining. We are also experiencing air pollution as a result of the mining activities,” said Thodlana.

Amidst the controversy, it was reported that Hualin was issued with a Special Mining Grant by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

City of Bulawayo also informed the stakeholders that the project was assessed by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and met all its requirements.

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