Mazowe underground reopening – a very tall order

Metallon Gold Corporation’s Mazowe Mining Company (MMC) recently announced plans…

Metallon Gold Corporation’s Mazowe Mining Company (MMC) recently announced plans to resume underground Shaft operations at its Jumbo Mine in Mazowe as part of its corporate strategy with miners calling the stance an act with the capacity to cause more harm than good.

Rudairo Mapuranga

In a statement, the MMC said it will end all unsafe near-surface mining in favour of more secure operations is a step towards ensuring the overall safety and sustainability of the mining industry.

“Mazowe Mining Company (“MMC”) announces steps to resume underground shaft operations as part of a corporate strategy. This will entail reintroducing shaft mining and extensively rehabilitating mining areas. This step is necessary to ensure that mining is conducted safely, thereby averting loss of life and injury to miners and protecting local communities and the environment,” the company statement reads in part.

“Consequently, MMC is ending all unsafe near-surface mining in favour of more secure operations. Underground shaft operations will be safer for miners and the community. It will also contribute more to the national fiscus and boost supporting industries. This strategic thrust aligns with recent pronouncements by the Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, unequivocally advocating for safe and sustainable mining.

According to Danford Suntile the chairperson of Miners for Economic Development although the move aims at reintroducing Shaft mining and extensive rehabilitation of mining areas to ensure safer mining practices, indications on the ground somehow portray a struggling miner with no capacity.

Suntile said the underground condition at Mazowe Goldfields is currently not desirable, with a miner killed two weeks ago in an incident at the underground operations which are currently being carried out by tributed scale miners as opposed to what Metallon Gold announced in regards to resuming the operations.

“For MMC to call for the stance to reopen underground operations for now is more questionable than it is convincing.

“The state of the underground is not desirable as pillars were robbed by illegal miners since 2018 and recently not more than 2 weeks ago a miner died on their underground operation but they are denying him saying he was an illegal miner.

“The tarred road going to the old dump or tailings from the shop has since collapsed due to unstable ground indicating the dangers of going underground.

“The mine currently is a disaster and MMC needs to seriously consider their stance because it repeats the results from Redwing Mine in Penalonga,” Suntile said.

MMC in its initial statement said measures to rehabilitate the mine faced resistance from miners.

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“We are aware that these necessary measures to enforce responsible mining have faced resistance from some miners. Such actions prevent MMC’s efforts to rehabilitate mining pits and pave the way for safe mining. We note the campaign of misinformation that has targeted the Company, meant to discredit the necessary steps we are taking. MMC is cooperating with all parties involved to ensure the success of this transition to safer mining. Together, we aim to set a benchmark for responsible mining, fostering a secure and sustainable future for all stakeholders”

State of Mazowe mine

There are close to 20 tributed small-scale miners doing surface mining on a contract basis with the miner. MMC has however said it was going to end “all unsafe near-surface mining in favour of more secure operations”. The statement did not however say that MMC was going to do away with the small operations of small-scale miners but unsafe ones.

Quick facts

The statement by MMC that it has plans to start underground operations did not give a timeline but only emphasised on closing unsafe small-scale mining operations in favour of what was described as “more secure operations”.

Mazowe gold mine operations were suspended in September 2018 due to massive operational challenges. The Mine had been placed under administration for a reconstruction order. The mine is currently working with care and maintenance staff.

In November 2022, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) President Ms Henrietta Rushwaya engaged Metallon Gold to tribute some of its claims to small-scale miners to bring sanity to the operations since it had been invaded by miners operating illegally.

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