Cletus Mushanawani Mashonaland Central Bureau
Mazowe Satellite Station, Mazowe River and citrus plantations are under threat from the illegal gold mining activities of over 500 artisanal miners.
The illegal artisanal miners from areas such as Mt Darwin, Gutu, Kadoma and Kwekwe are mining along Mazowe River around the Smithfields farming area.
Mazowe houses Zimbabwe’s communications satellite earth receiving station and is the prime orange producing area in the country.
TelOne managing director Mrs Chipo Mtasa confirmed receiving reports of illegal mining activities near Mazowe Satellite Station, while police said they will investigate the matter.
“Yes, we heard of the presence of illegal artisanal miners near the satellite station and we will soon be visiting the area to assess the extent of the damage. Our loss control department and other security arms are always on the ground and will closely work together to ensure that there is no disruption of operations there,” said Mrs Mtasa before asking for questions in writing.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they were still to receive reports of any mining activities along Mazowe River.
Asst Comm Nyathi said he would make a follow-up with people on the ground in Mashonaland Central.
Mashonaland Central provincial police spokesperson Inspector Milton Mundembe, said efforts to combat illegal mining were ongoing.
“Operations to flush out illegal artisanal miners are ongoing. As we speak, there is an ongoing operation at Jumbo Mine. The issue of illegal mining operations around Smithfields has not been brought to our attention, but deployments will be made there to ensure that law and order prevails,” Insp Mundembe said.
It was a hive of activity at Smithfields when The Herald visited the area yesterday with artisanal miners, some in their teens working in shafts.
Makeshift structures are all over the area, with some of them being in the river basin.
The noise of generators used to power water pumps could be heard along the river.
Siltation is choking the river, thereby threatening citrus farming in the area.
Upon seeing the news crew vehicle approaching, the illegal artisanal miners ran in different directions. Most of them ran towards Mazowe Satellite Station which is a few metres from the river. The few who managed to gather courage and approach the news crew, said more than 500 people are operating in the area.