Small-scale miners want dialogue with EMA

The Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small Scale Sustainable Mining Council says its members are tired of battling with the Environmental Management Agency over their operations and now wants dialogue to work out a way forward.

Council president, Wellington Takavarasha, told The Zimbabwean in an interview that the work of a small miner was difficult because of multiple restrictions on their operations. Of late, the government has made several pronouncements seeking to regularise the operations of small miners, but nothing has come to life so far. “We want EMA to do awareness programmes. We want to create dialogue and stop the cat and mouse games. They should come to assist not arrest the miners,” Takavarasha said.

He also said current levels of rural district council levies were unreasonable. “Many people depend on the mines for their livelihoods. How can rural district councils demand up to $10,000 per year in levies?”

Concerns have been raised that illegal mining activities, particularly in the alluvial gold mining sector, are destroying the environment through pollution. The miners use dangerous chemicals like cyanide in the processing of the gold, which are then dumped into rivers and other water bodies.

Norman Mukwakwami, a mining engineer, said in a report recently that this form of mineral extraction causes serious environmental damage through water contamination with heavy metals like mercury and cyanide. Other effects are deforestation, soil erosion and siltation.

“However, the criminalisation of artisanal mining has failed to stop the activities of an estimated 500,000 artisanal miners extracting gold, diamonds, tantalite and chrome,” he said.

Artisanal mining has been practised for many years but has risen drastically in recent times because of rising levels of poverty. Many unemployed youths have turned to this form of mining for survival.

Mukwakwami contends that because it is a subsistence activity no amount of legislation can eradicate the practice. “It is imperative that a solution be developed that benefits the artisanal miners and is ecologically sustainable,” he said. “The formalisation of the sector should be based on the role of artisanal mining in poverty alleviation.”

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *