Govt puts small-scale mining operations under scrutiny

The proliferation of small-scale mining activities has resulted in deforestation, water pollution and soil erosion in many parts of the

THE Government has put small-scale mining operations under scrutiny to monitor, prevent and manage mining practices that are potentially detrimental to the environment.

This comes after the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has roped in the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate to curb unsafe and unsecured mining.

 Despite contributing significantly to the country’s economy, these miners often operate without proper regulations, leading to widespread environmental degradation.

Finding sustainable ways to manage the environment in mining areas, especially those involving small-scale miners, is critical to ensure the sector, which accounts for roughly 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s gold production, continues to support the economy.

 Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Dr Polite Kambamura acknowledged in Parliament recently that there was a problem of unsafe and unsecured mining.

“It is true that there has been a culture whereby small-scale miners, after digging for gold or any other mineral, leave their work areas open and unsecured. The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development is working hand-in-glove with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate to see that this is corrected,” he said.

The proliferation of small-scale mining activities, gold and chrome mining, has resulted in deforestation, water pollution, and soil erosion. Forests are being cleared to make way for mining operations, disrupting delicate ecosystems and endangering biodiversity.

Moreover, the use of mercury and cyanide in the extraction process contaminates water sources, posing serious health risks to nearby communities and wildlife.

Efforts to address the environmental hazards have been hampered by inadequate enforcement of existing regulations and limited resources for monitoring and oversight, but the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has moved to curb the pandemic.

Last week Wednesday there was an inter-ministerial meeting together with the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate (Mangaliso Ndlovu) and Minister of Home Affairs (Kazembe Kazembe), to find ways to collaborate to stop the bad practices that are happening.

“All the same, our inspection team from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development will be going around to check on compliance about securing worked-out areas. 

“The Ministry of Mines is coming up with a policy whereby all miners will have to submit a mine closure plan so that the Ministry can follow up to see that the closure plan has been implemented,” Dr Kambamura added.

“It is true that communities have been losing livestock. So, the ministry considered that and it is taking that seriously to make sure that our miners mine sustainably.”

In the brainstorming meeting, which was looking at ways to implement safer mining standards and also stop illegal mining, considering the havoc that the illegal miners are causing to the environment the ministries came up with several possible solutions.

Dr Kambamura told Parliament, “We came up with resolutions, chief among them was our combined teams which come from Environment, through EMA and Home Affairs, through the police to go around and check on compliance.”

The teams will be checking on compliance in terms of registration, compliance in terms of safer mining standards.

It was suggested that perpetrators of the law will be prosecuted and stiffer penalties will be imposed to send the right message to the people.

The inter-ministerial team also deliberated on coming up with a Statutory Instrument (SI), which empowers local communities to report any unsafe mining practices in their area and wherever they suspect there could be illegal mining or unregistered mining taking place.

Herald

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