Illegal miners derail Mazowe Mine restart Metallon says the initiative to restore underground mining operations aligns with the Government’s call for safe and sustainable mining practices and investment in the growth of the critical mining sector. (File Picture)

Business Reporter

METALLON Corporation subsidiary has failed to make headway from its efforts to resume organised mining at Mazowe Mine as it continues to face unyielding resistance from illegal gold miners who are refusing to vacate the mine.

This is despite a recent Government order to halt all unsafe mining activities.

Mazowe Mine was closed in September 2018 due to massive operational challenges, including capital constraints.

The mine was placed under administration following reconstruction issues against it together with its other sister mine, Shamva Mine.

Metallon Group’s portfolio includes How Mine, Shamva Mine, Mazowe Mine, and Redwing Mine, making it the country’s largest gold miner.

The refusal to vacate the Mazowe Mine goes against the push by the Government for safe and sustainable mining activities. Gold is Zimbabwe’s biggest foreign currency earner.

In January this year, Mazowe Mine announced plans to resume underground shaft operations, which were suspended in 2019 after an invasion of its minefields by artisanal miners.

The planned resumption of the underground mining activities at Mazowe is part of the firm’s broader strategy to reintroduce safer shaft mining and extensively rehabilitate mining areas.

The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development’s inspectorate department, in March this year conducted a safety inspection of pit mining operations around Mazowe Mine, before subsequently suspending all unsafe mining practices in the affected areas.

“This order effectively halted all unsafe mining operations to pave the way for formal, regulated operations.

“We regret that this legal Government order and the mine’s plans to restore organised mining have faced resistance from some operators in the area,” it said.

“These actions have hindered MMC’s efforts to urgently rehabilitate mining pits and commence large-scale, safer mining operations.”

Due to illegal mining activities that have ensued at Mazowe, the site has suffered land degradation and in some instances, loss of lives as the shafts collapsed due to artisanal miners’ rudimentary and unsafe mining methods.

MMC said the initiative to restore underground mining operations aligns with the Government’s call for safe and sustainable mining practices and investment in the growth of the critical mining sector.

Last year, President Mnangagwa launched the Responsible Mining Initiative which seeks to combat illegal mining operations across all mining regions in the country.

The President has indicated the Government will not tolerate any form of non-compliance in the mining sector and authorities have embarked on a mines audit that seeks to buttress the objectives of the Responsible Mining Initiative.

“Mazowe Mine is committed to collaborating with all stakeholders to achieve the following goals: ending unsafe pit mining operations and transitioning the mine to secure shaft mining, thereby preventing loss of life and protecting local communities and the environment; and resuming large-scale underground shaft operations to align with the national goal for responsible and safe mining practices,” it said.

In the past, Zimbabwe’s mining industry has been plagued with illegal operations that cost the country millions of dollars and have been detrimental to the environment.

The mining sector is one of the country’s major economic centrepieces driving the country to an upper middle-income society by 2030, anchored by gold while platinum is in second spot in terms of contribution to the fiscus.

Platinum and gold account for more than 50 percent of the country’s export revenue while mining in general brings in over 75 percent of the export earnings.

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