Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
At least seven gold mill operators and their managers from Pickstone Mine area in Chegutu are before the courts on charges of illegally trading in the precious mineral. Reports of artisanal miners in the Pickstone area delivering up to 100kg of gold monthly to Fidelity Printers prompted investigations which later disproved the claims and led to the discovery of irregularities in the operations of artisanal miners and millers.
The investigations by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development working with Fidelity Printers established that only about 62kg were being delivered every month by the artisanal miners.
Reports of at least five artisanal miners being trapped during back filling at Pickstone Mine two weeks ago cast the limelight on the operations in the area, leading to the arrest of the millers and their managers.
The investigations established that the area was a haven for illegal gold trade and smuggling, among other vices, prejudicing the country of much needed revenue.
Managers from Padombo, Elf 73 and 03, Charama, Shepherd Sunray, Chanton and Funny milling centres have been brought before the Chegutu Magistrates’ Court for contravening the Mines and Minerals Act and Gold Trade Act.
Bester Muvezwa, Wilfred Gara and Richard Kisimisi were convicted and fined $100 each (or 60 days).
Findings have shown that the affected mills were receiving gold from artisanal miners without permits in contravention of Section 403 of the Mines and Minerals Act and the Mining Customs Milling Regulations.
Others also faced charges of contravening the Mines and Mineral Act and the Gold Trade Act for failing to keep accurate records of gold ore they received.
They are said to be receiving gold and processing it before giving part of it back to the artisanal miners who promise to sell it to Fidelity Printers and Refineries.
But the gold could not be traced since there was no paper trail.