Minister orders stop to artisanal mining amid rain menace

By Staff Reporter

Mines Minister Soda Zhemu has ordered an immediate stop on all artisanal mining activities in the country as a measure to avoid the high risk of death during the current rain period.

The minister also called on mining forms to employ adequate safety measures to reduce mine accidents.

“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,” Zhemu said in a Monday statement.

“The ministry would like to implore all the miners to be cognizant of these dangers and risks and accordingly take adequate precautions and practise responsible mining to preserve lives as a top most priority.

“It should be noted that we are lately experiencing torrent rainfall which increase the dangers and risks,” he said.

The rainy season has often brought increased risks to mining activities in the mineral rich country.

These include flooding, drowning, loose ground leading to fall and ground subsidence as well as slimes and dam breaches.

Zhemu called on artisanal miners to “completely stop” their activities.

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

“Furthermore, miners should cooperate with instructions given by government authorities to ensure safe mining operations.

“It should be noted that 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 minister also advised miners to avoid working or mining along rivers or water ways as shafts are likely to flood from rain upstream posing risks of drowning.

Recently, 15 artisanal miners were lucky to escape death after spending an agonising three days trapped underground following a shaft collapse at Redwing Mine in Manicaland.

Last week, two artisanal miners died as a result of a mine shaft collapse at Master Cecil Mine in Umguza district, Matabeleland North.

In September last year, 10 miners died in another mine shaft collapse incident at Bay Horse gold mine in Chegutu.

Perhaps the biggest mine disaster in the recent past was the February 2019 in which 23 illegal miners died when shafts and tunnels at gold producer RioZim’s Cricket Mine and a neighbouring one were flooded by water after the collapse of a dam wall due to heavy rains received in the area at the time.

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