Zimbabwe Gold Mine collapse: Govt. Blame unsustainable mining techniques

Zimbabwe gold mine collapse, search operation underway as minister blames mining authorities for wilfully disregarding laws and their unsustainable mining techniques.

gold mine collapse Chegutu, Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, the newly appointed Minister of Mines, Soda Zhemu, has hit out at the mining authorities, blaming their “unsustainable mining techniques” and “wilfully disregarding laws” for last Friday’s Bayhorse gold mine tragedy, which resulted in nine fatalities and four miners still missing, as well as 21 survivors.

About 42 artisanal miners are believed to be working underground at Chegutu’s Bay Horse mine, which collapsed on Friday, provincial official Marian Chombo told local media on Sunday. Local reports say 21 of them were rescued, while 10 others were trapped in the rubble.

Unqualified Personnel and Unsustainable Mining Techniques Blamed

Zhemu placed the blame for the incident squarely on T Sigauke’s mine authorities, citing haphazard extraction methods supervised by unqualified employees. He expressed concerns about unsustainable mining techniques and disregard for enabling laws.

According to Zhemu, the accident was caused by the implementation of careless exploration techniques, which were overseen by untrained individuals.

Reports indicated that the impacted mine lacks a qualified mine manager, Zhemu told journalists in Harare on Monday during a Gold Mobilization Send-Off workshop. Due to this, there was no direction on how the shafts should be operated.

Govt. Requests mining companies to assist in rescue

As part of the rescue effort, the government has also asked mining companies in Mashonaland West to assist in the rescue of the illegal miners believed to be trapped underground at the Chegutuwanma mine.

Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Decentralization Minister Marian Chombo, speaking to reporters and rescue teams after visiting the accident site, said ten people had been confirmed dead and four bodies had been recovered so far.

 “We are not sure of the exact number but we were told that 42 artisanal miners went underground, but the number could be higher because some entered the mine through unidentified entrances,” Chombo said.

She called on major mining companies in Mashonaland West, including ZimPlats, Pickstone and Golden Valley, to send rescue machinery to the scene.

 “We are calling on major mining companies like ZimPlats, Golden Valley and others to come and help recover the bodies trapped underground,” Chombo said.

Zimbabwe Gold Mine collapse

Bayhorse gold mine tragedy raises Regulatory Oversight

The disaster at Bayhorse raises questions about who authorized operations at the mine, given the concerns surrounding Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports and due diligence processes by Mines ministry officials.

“The accident at Chakari happened as a result of non-compliance, so as much as we could talk about the water (logging), to us, the accident was mainly due to human error,” Minister Zhemu stated.

Delays in Alerting Authorities

Minister Zhemu also highlighted delays in alerting the relevant ministry of the incident, revealing that it took hours before they were made aware of the tragedy. This delay hampered early response efforts. According to the Minister, the Ministry of Mines was contacted by police only four hours after the accident occurred at 10 a.m.

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Conflicting Figures and Ongoing Rescue Operation Zimbabwe Gold Mine collapse

The ministry is still awaiting official confirmation of the exact number of casualties and survivors, as well as the status of missing persons. Conflicting figures have made it challenging to provide precise information.

Efforts to retrieve trapped miners have been hampered by soft ground and a rock boulder blocking the tunnel. The fatalities are expected to rise as four miners remain unaccounted for.

Small-Scale Miners Struggle

Small-scale miners face challenges conducting sustainable exploration due to the risk of losing mines to powerful cartels. These cartels often seize gold claims with impunity, forcing miners into haphazard practices.

The Bayhorse mine collapse is reminiscent of past mining accidents in Zimbabwe, highlighting the risks associated with artisanal mining in disused mines.

As of now, rescue teams are tirelessly working to locate any remaining survivors and provide closure to the families affected by this devastating incident. The situation remains fluid, and further updates are expected as the rescue operation continues.

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