Government halts all small-scale mining operations until end of rainy season


HARARE – In light of the extreme risks posed by flooding and collapsing tunnels during the rainy season, Zhemu Soda, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, has mandated a halt to all artisanal mining operations. 

Zimbabwe government suspends small scale or artisanal mining
Image: NewZimbabwe 

This directive, issued yesterday, is aimed at preventing tragic incidents like the recent one in the Tsapauta area of Penhalonga where 15 artisanal miners were trapped in a collapsed mineshaft for four days before being miraculously rescued.

This incident echoes a similar tragedy last September at Bay Horse in Chegutu, where a mineshaft collapse led to the entrapment of 42 artisanal miners. 

Despite rescue efforts, only 22 miners were saved, while 20 lost their lives. The collapsed shaft now serves as their final resting place.

While the suspension applies to artisanal miners, medium and large-scale miners are permitted to continue operations, provided they adhere to safe mining practices. 

This was emphasized by Minister Soda at a media conference on mining precautions during the rainy season held in Harare yesterday.

“The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development would like to advise all miners, large scale, medium scale, and small scale in particular artisanal miners across the country that the onset of the rainy season brings with it grave dangers and risks that are a threat to lives and potential loss of equipment and damage to mines,” said Soda.

“During the rainy season we experience heightened risks in the form of flooding, drowning, weakened ground leading to fall and ground subsidence as well as slime dam breaches which unfortunately lead to loss of lives.

“As a precaution, small-scale artisanal miners are advised to completely stop mining altogether and resume when the rains stop.”

The Minister further stressed that inspectors across the country will enforce penalties, as stipulated in the country’s Mines and Minerals Act, on those who fail to comply with these directives. 

“It should be noted that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Inspectors shall be out in full force to ensure that there is compliance with all governance requirements failure of which punishment will be imposed.”

The Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president, Ms Henrietta Rushwaya, has commended the Government's recommendations, stating that they will ensure safer mining practices. 

However, in a country where small-scale gold mining operations contribute the largest proportion of gold outputs, the suspension is expected to significantly hamper monthly deposits. 

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