Mining gains elude Great Dyke communities

Mining results in more negative than positive developments for communities living in the Great Dykes, says the Executive Director of the Poverty Reduction Forum Trust, Judith Kaulem.

The findings of a study commissioned by the Trust established that mining operations had more negative impacts to the environment and communities’ livelihoods, but lessons drawn from the exercise show that mining can contribute to poverty reduction in a number of ways.

Conducted in 2013, the studysought to undertake a critical analysis of the rural poverty situation in mining communities in Shurugwi, Mhondoro Ngezi, Zvishavane and Guruve and generate specific and practical policy recommendations and strategies to ensure poverty reduction.

“Most communities depend on boreholes which constantly break down and people end up using these polluted open wells and rivers. Improper environmental management by small scale miners cause land and forest degradation,” reads the report.

The survey established that over 95 percent of the respondents had their livelihoods affected by mining one way or the other. Communities in the Great Dykes complained that the mining companies did not employ locals and social problems and bad cultural practices were rampant.

“The employment system at Zimplats is not clear and transparent as locals are only employed by contractors. Mining activities absorb only between 3- 5 percent of their labour force from 30 adjacent villages,” reads the report.

In Shurugwi, the employment system is skewed toward recruiting non-community members with allegations that the majority of the workers are from Bindura, where the human resources manager comes from.

According to the report, less than 10 percent of locals were employed formally by the mining firms.

Positive contributions by the miners examples of Zimplats in Mhondoro Ngezi, where the company developed and improved infrastructure like roads, schools, and clinics.

In Shurugwi, Unki mine contributed towards improving the livelihoods of the communities in ward 19 and the company constructed a mothers’ waiting shelter.

SAN He, a Chinese based company with a chrome processing and extraction plant in Tendenenge farm in Ward 1 of Guruve district assisted by transporting the sick, especially those bitten by snakes, to the nearest Kamusasa clinic – about 10 kilometres away.

It also contributed towards the construction of an early childhood development toilet and supply of books and stationery to the ECD pupils. The report recommended that mining companies should provide revolving financial loans and business development training support to local entrepreneurs.

It urged mining firms to come up with specific projects that support gender groups such as women, the elderly and orphans, saying this would allow livelihood diversification, which is crucial in the livelihoods of rural households.

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