Columbus Mabika Herald Reporter
People and Earth Solidarity Law Network (PES Lawyers), a body of environmental lawyers and researchers, has called on Government to set up a commission of inquiry into recent mine disasters to curb future occurrences.
The call comes after a series of mine accidents that killed artisanal miners in the past few months, with the latest being the Jumbo Mine disaster which occurred in Mazowe.
Eight people were killed at Jumbo Mine when a dynamite exploded in a shaft, resulting in the collapse of a nearby shaft in which artisanal miners were working.
PES Lawyers is a non-profit making organisation of legal and policy researchers, lawyers and activists standing up for environment, climate and economic justice in Zimbabwe and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In an interview, PES Lawyers spokesman Mr Lenin Chisaira said the recurring mine disasters in the country had exposed a number of malpractices which needed correction in the mining sector.
“Artisanal miners and small-scale miners’ contribution to the national gold output should not be taken for granted,” he said.
“Statistics show that three quarters of gold delivered to Fidelity Printers comes from them, he said.
“As environmental lawyers, we call upon the Government to set up a commission of inquiry into these recurring disasters. The commission should analyse property rights restrictions occasioned by large-scale gold mine ownership and underutilisation of gold claims and blocks, as well as mining methods and safety of artisanal miners.”
Mr Chisaira said the Government should provide adequate legal and environmental support systems to deal with the disasters and exploitation of small-scale miners by bigger entities.
He urged Government to look into the nature of property rights in the gold mining sector and ensure that disaster response systems are evaluated and adequately funded.
In August 2018, 12 artisanal miners were trapped to death at Eldorado Mine in Chinhoyi following the collapse of a shaft.
Following the Eldorado mine disaster, in February this year 26 artisanal miners were trapped to death at Cricket Mine in Battlefields after the shafts they were working in were flooded by water.