185 die at the mines, ZMF encouraged to establish rescue teams

Zimbabwe recorded a total of 185 fatalities last year from…

Zimbabwe recorded a total of 185 fatalities last year from 170 recorded mine accidents with an average of 83 per cent of the accidents occurring at small-scale and artisanal (ASM) run mines, a government official said.

Rudairo Mapuranga

Official figures show that, in 2019, 116 accidents occurred resulting in 182 fatalities, in 2020, 158 accidents occurred resulting in 161 fatalities, in 2021, 121 accidents occurred resulting in 139 fatalities, and in 2022, 170 accidents occurred resulting in 185 fatalities.

Speaking at the Mine Rescue Association of Zimbabwe (MRAZ), Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Principal Inspector Mines and Explosives Shepherd Dhliwayo at Mimosa Mine on Thursday said one miner dies every week on average over the past 5 years with 83 per cent occurring in the non-Chamber of mines category.

He said it was of utmost importance for the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) to establish and enlist provincial rescue teams that can participate in the MRAZ national competitions and regional exercises to ensure that the ASM understands the importance of safety.

“Our statistics are showing that one miner dies every week on an average over the past five years, 185 killed over the last year of 2022 indicates a persistent trend. These statistics indicate that the majority of these accidents (83%) occur in the non-chamber affiliated mines category, that is to say mostly in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. This can be attributed to, amongst other factors, the lack of a platform such as this one which enhances mine rescue emergency preparedness. In the same vein let us all encourage the participation of these artisanal and small-scale miners in these mine rescue competitions to cultivate a culture of safety within their mining operations. I take this opportunity to lobby the ZMF to establish and enlist provincial rescue teams in the competition going forward. It is through such coordinated and cohesive efforts we can achieve our shared vision of zero accidents potential for all mines in Zimbabwe.

“My office has been running around the country conducting an awareness campaign with small-scale miners and believe the message has sunk into their hearts. They have started undertaking first aid training with the assistance of the School of Mines, in Matabeleland, and Midlands they have a pilot project for that,” Dhliwayo said.

Dhliwayo said the accidents happening in the mining industry are unexpected as safety should be treated as a top priority by the entire workforce.

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“These figures are unacceptable with expecting of a vision of establishing a zero accident potential for all miners of Zimbabwe. Mine Safety must be treated as a top priority by the entire workforce.

“The Chief Mining Engineer’s office and other relevant stakeholders have successfully lobbied for S.I 14 of 2023 criminal law codification, a very deterrent penalty system to make compliance a better option. We must not allow a situation where occurrences of mine accidents take one life and cause loss of millions of dollars,” Dhliwayo said.

Recently a Chegutu mine made international headlines after a shaft collapsed trapping 41 miners underground. Government ordered the rescue mission to be aborted after fears that rescuers lives were at risk due to unsafe mining which was being conducted at the site.

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