The Sunday News
Locadia Mavhudzi, Midlands Correspondent
A MINING company operating in Mberengwa has continued to defy the Government ban on alluvial gold mining despite warnings and orders from the Environmental Management Agency (Ema).
The Government released Statutory Instrument 104 of 2021 Environmental Management (Control of Alluvial Mining) (Amendment) Regulations, 2021 (No 2) as a subsequent legislation to the Ema Act which regulates alluvial mining operations in the country.
However, the mine, which operates along Dohwe River near Mberengwa Rural Service Centre which is licensed to undertake rubble, opencast and reef mining, has now encroached into Dohwe River catchment and is now practising alluvial mining with the use of heavy equipment such as excavators, front-end loaders and tipper trucks resulting in massive environmental degradation.
Efforts by Ema to control the mining have been fruitless despite issuing the company with tickets, sources said.
Midlands provincial environment manager, Mr Benson Bhasera said several efforts to stop the environmental crimes over the past two months have not been fruitful.
“An order was served on 1 July by our district official to stop operations and rehabilitate the area but the manager refused to sign the documents, saying that she needed to consult the interpreter before signing. The order was then accepted two days later but operations continued.
“Another inspection conducted on 8 July assessed the extent of riverbed and river bank excavation and an order to cease operations was served as well as a ticket worth $800 000 was charged. Despite these efforts, the miner continues to operate. We have since engaged critical stakeholders such as the Ministry of Mines, Mberengwa RDC and the police as we seek to take the route of opening a docket.”
Mr Bhasera said the miner was wilfully disregarding the law as stipulated in the sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Statutory Instrument. Section 6 states: “Under no circumstances shall alluvial mining be carried out through use of mechanical equipment or motor-powered equipment unless express authority has been granted for such as envisaged in section 3(1).
Section 7 notes that the use of mercury and cyanide or any other chemical for purposes of processing of ore or any other mining related activity is prohibited within the defined minimum distances set out in subsection (3) and subject to verification through the EIA process, while section 8 says; Any person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 14 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
Efforts to contact the mine manager were fruitless as he was said to be in Harare.
Meanwhile, communities leaving downstream of Dohwe river are reportedly being subjected to contaminated water through the use of mercury in the processing of gold.