The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Mining Safety Health and Environmental Council (Zimshec) has intensified efforts to roll out extensive small-scale miners’ trainings on safety, health and environmental issues nationwide.
Zimshec has partnered the Zimbabwe School of Mines and the Midlands State University to introduce a skills development programme for small-scale miners. Formed last year, the organisation founded by small-scale and artisanal miners, seeks to promote occupational health and safety, environmentally friendly and sustainable mining practices as well as reduce the number of people trapped in mines due to poor mining practices.
In an interview, Zimshec deputy executive director Mr Philemon Mokuele said in August they are set to roll out their second phase of trainings.
“This month (July) we rolled out the first phase of training that saw 36 rescue team members drawn from Matabeleland North, South and parts of Midlands undergoing the training on first aid and basic proto teams rescue skills. We organised this in partnership with the ZSM and Zimbabwe Environment Lawyers Association.
“As of 1 August, in partnership with MSU we are expecting to start training on dealing with health and safety issues with a class of 50, but we are going to continue enrolling small scale miners and it’s an ongoing course,” said Mr Mokuele, who is also the Zimbabwe Miners Federation Matabeleland South provincial chairman.
He said following deaths of several miners after getting trapped in mineshafts due to poor safety and mining practices, the three-month training programme would cover occupational health and safety risks to miners.
Mr Mokuele said upon completion of the course, the miners will be awarded certificates in safety, health and environment in small-to-medium scale mining.
“The course has six modules which include an introduction to safety, health and environment in mining, an introduction to risk and conflict management, plant machinery and materials application, professional ethics and practice in mining, environmental impact assessment norms, technological entrepreneurship and innovation in mining.”
He said the trainings which are meant to complement Government’s efforts will also aid to the process of formalising small and artisanal miners. ZMF which represents small-scale and artisanal miners is on record saying 84 percent of small and artisanal miners are not registered.
“Now when you talk about 1,5 million people these are the people that are still on the illegal side only 40 000 people are registered in terms of the Mines and Minerals Act, so we are looking at plus or minus 84 percent unregistered miners. We have been talking to Government so that they formalise these people,” said ZMF chief executive officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha in an interview.
He said there was a need to formalise small and artisanal miners, turn their operations into formal practices for it to benefit more from mainstream market and Government initiatives, while at the same time contributing to curbing of mineral leakages. Mr Takavarasha said of key importance were environmental management and sustainability issues.
“We have partnered with the Environment Management Agency (EMA) so that the miners do understand the need to mitigate the environmental degradation that they would have done by doing environmental management plan which is not costly and they can easily understand.”