Kwekwe risks collapsing as illegal mining threatens city’s stability


KWEKWE – A recent government study has confirmed that a network of illegal mining tunnels, extending as deep as 1.5 kilometres beneath Kwekwe's central business district and residential areas, is posing a significant risk to residents. 

There are growing concerns that these areas might cave in due to the extensive underground excavations.

The city of Kwekwe risks caving in due to illegal mining activities
The classroom block collapse at Globe and Phoenix Primary school in March last year underscores the gravity of Kwekwe's illegal mining activities. 

The study, conducted by the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), employed advanced geospatial mapping techniques to reveal an extensive network of tunnels. 

These tunnels range from 40 metres to approximately 1.5 kilometres in depth, threatening the structural integrity of the ground and buildings above them.

The report highlights the dangerous practice of illegal miners targeting support pillars within these tunnels – which not only endangers their own lives but also those of the residents living above, as it significantly increases the risk of tunnel collapse.

The report further details the numerous hazards these illegal mining tunnels pose to the city's infrastructure and environment. 

Sinkholes, resulting from the collapse of underground voids, have emerged as a significant concern, with several incidents already recorded. 

Ground vibrations from blasting activities within the tunnels contribute to structural damage and further instability.

The urgency of the situation was brought to the fore by a tragic incident in March last year when a classroom block at Globe and Phoenix Primary School collapsed into a sinkhole, injuring seven pupils. 

This occurred after illegal gold miners undermined the foundations and tunnelled under the floor in their quest for gold. 

The large pit, where the classroom once stood, was a direct result of the extensive illegal gold mining underneath the school grounds, with visible cracks appearing on the walls of some of the other classroom blocks.

Kwekwe is situated atop one of the oldest known gold mines, originally known as King Solomon's Mine and later renamed Globe and Phoenix Mine (G&P) in the 1960s. 

The mine is currently owned by Kwekwe Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM).

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