By Business Reporter – Saturday 16 February 2019
HARARE (Mining Index) – THE Business Economic Empowerment Forum (B.E.E.F) has joined the nation in mourning trapped miners at the Kadoma-Battlefields mine, calling on government to put in place a mobile and comprehensive Disaster Management Committee that will trigger emergency rescue efforts for small-scale miners.
Small-scale and artisanal miners have become an important sector in Zimbabwe’s economic recovery. Of the 33.2 tonnes of gold delivered to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) in 2018, small scale miners contributed 21.7 tonnes, while primary producers accounted for the remaining 11.5 tonnes.
Mining accounts for two-thirds of Zimbabwe’s exports with gold being Zimbabwe’s top mineral export earner.
At least twenty-three artisanal miners perished Tuesday evening following heavy flooding at a makeshift mine in Battlefields near Kadoma, with the latest report indicating eight miners have been rescued.
BEEF Governor for Mining Terrence Madiro said there is greater need for small-scale and artisanal miners to have proper mining equipment to prevent such disasters.
“I note with great sadness our hardworking artisanal miners who got trapped at the Battlefields mining shafts. These are incidents we as the mining industry need to make sure they are prevented.”
“We also want to commend our government for declaring the Battlefields mining accident a national disaster. Families that lost their loved ones need a helping hand in this difficult moment.”
“There is need for government to continue to empower small-scale miners so that they have proper mining and safety equipment in conducting their business. As BEEF we will make sure we push for urgent reforms to make mining safe especially for the small scale miners, who have become the backbone of the gold mining sector,” said Madiro.
B.E.E.F Treasurer General Tapfuma Gurajena concurred, urging the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development together with the Zimbabwe School of Mines (ZSM) to ensure small-scale and artisanal miners are well equipped, trained and operate within the laws of the country. “We urge artisanal miners to be well tooled and organised in their approach to mining business.”
B.E.E.F Secretary General Gilbert Mafuku looked back to the 1980s era when there was a national rescue department called PROTO that was on standby for mining rescue operations.
“We seek the re-establishment of former national rescue department PROTO, which used to be under the auspices of the ministry of Mines and Mining Development, to oversee disaster management at all mines around the country.”
Last year the United States (US) military personnel and British divers joined rescue efforts at a flooded cave in northern Thailand where 12 children and their soccer coach were trapped for five days in June 2018.
B.E.E.F said where the nation lacks capacity, it is prudent to request for assistance from the regional and international community to beef-up rescue teams.
RioZim joined hands with the Civil Protection Unit and the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) in rescue and investigation efforts. ENDS//