Walter Nyamukondiwa Mashonaland West Bureau
The bodies of 14 illegal miners who were trapped at Eldorado Mine in Chinhoyi two weeks ago can no longer be retrieved, and mine authorities were yesterday sealing off all access points to the main shaft to ensure no more artisanal miners enter.
When The Herald visited the mine on Wednesday, a front-end loader was busy covering at least six access pits which were being used by illegal artisanal miners to enter the main shaft.
The pits would connect with the main shaft at Level 2 of the mine and artisanal miners would go deeper to Level 11 where the 14 illegal miners were recently trapped and could not be brought to the surface for burial.
Mashonaland West police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabgweazara said the move was aimed at restoring order in line with recommendations by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
“Illegal and haphazard mining has been going on at Eldorado Mine for some time and as the police we support the decision by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, together with owners of the mine, to seal off all the illegal entry pits,” he said.
“This ensures that we do not experience loss of life at this mine.
“A total of six pits are being sealed off. In fact, all the illegal pits that were being used by illegal gold miners are all being sealed off.”
Mine manager Mr Mish Misinga said sealing of the shafts would deter illegal miners from gaining entrance into the main shaft.
“We are doing everything to comply with orders from the Ministry of Mines so that we do not see further loss of life here,” he said.
“We are doing everything to restore the mine’s security system.”
Mr Misinga said the entrance to the main shaft would be locked with iron screens until all security issues had been put in place, including erecting the perimeter fence which had been brought down by the illegal miners.
The mine has been at the centre of a dispute, which has since been resolved, with the owners being tasked to re-establish structures that had collapsed following the invasion by the illegal miners.