/Artisanal gold miners, the festive season and death traps

Artisanal gold miners, the festive season and death traps

By Joshua Chibvuma

As the festive season approaches, more unregistered small scale miners are forced to rush for the mines in search of the precious mineral nuggets. The desire to please loved ones is a human instinct that also drives the “illegal” miners into mining.

Despite this, the month of November 2020 shall be remembered by the artisanal mining fraternity for years to come. It has been a grieving month as many miners lost their lives underground.

Several mine tunnels across the country collapsed. Miners were trapped and some bodies were recovered whilst others were never recovered. Reported cases include the death of about 10 miners at Premier mining area near Mutare, at least 30 miners  reported to have been trapped underground in Bindura and about 6 miners who lost their lives in Esigodini. These are officially reported cases. The known is little and the unknown remains God’s answer.

The rain season upon us is associated with many hazardous conditions for the small scale miners. The ground becomes wet and unstable. Tunnels are weakened. The water table rises and tunnel floods are frequent. The lives of miners with little or no protective suits is at stake. The miners are exposed to all the life threatening conditions in the mining industry.

The December holidays in Zimbabwe force many people to try their luck in the informal mining industry. With the economic woes many people are tempted to engage in mining for fast cash. However, the death stories may force many to think again. The strong and fearless will never retreat.

Giving the “illegal” miners a chance though legislation may assist in making them organised. In the end both parties benefit from the minerals. It is a big task to ensure the small scale informal miners are saved from death. Life is a basic right for all, the informal miners too included.

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