LocalNews

Unki Platinum under fire as villagers threaten mass action

Mining Reporter Thursday 11 July 2019

SHURUGWI (Mining Index) – UNKI Platinum mine has come under fire from villagers demanding that the miner commits a portion of its profits to develop Shurugwi and its surroundings or face the wrath of the community.

The Anglo American firm has been mining platinum in Shurugwi for a number of years, yet the villagers claim the mine has not undertaken any meaningful development in the town that hosts the precious metal.

The villagers are now fed up with the mine’s failure to plough back into the community and have since threatened mass action in the near future if their demands are not met.

This came out during a traditional leaders’ community dialogue organised by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) and Midlands Natural Resources Agenda which was held at Chief Nhema’s court with over forty traditional leaders in attendance.

The villagers expressed frustration with the failure by either the government or the mining entities in the region to ensure platinum proceeds are used for the development of the area. The road infrastructure in the area is in bad shape with Unki Mine only constructing a short stretch of tarred road from the Gweru – Zvishavane highway to its premises.

Chief Nhema said he has tried to engage Unki mine demanding that his community benefits from its platinum but the company told him that it could not do anything because it does not have title to the land.

“I tried to implore them to use the Bafokeng model but Unki mine told me that in Bafokeng, miners have title deeds of the land they are using that is why they are developing the surrounding areas,” he said.

Headman Fundira expressed concern over failure by the mine to employ locals, thereby subjecting the villagers to more poverty in the face of plenty.

“Mines like Unki have been extracting platinum here for some time but they have not done anything for the community. They do not even employ our children,” said the headman.

He said at one point villagers mobilised each other and went to demand employment for their children and Unki mine responded by calling the police to disperse them. Villagers are equally angry with other small scale Chinese and indigenous mines owned by political elites that are also not contributing to the development of the area. Shurugwi has come under significant environmental strain in recent years due to the mining activities underway.

CNRG director, Farai Maguwu implored Shurugwi traditional leaders to remain steadfast if they wish to last the distance in the struggle against mineral resource looting by corporates and powerful individuals.

Maguwu said natural resources are finite hence the need to add value and beneficiate locally, leading to other industries upstream and downstream, thereby creating thousands of jobs and ensuring that in the long run, Shurugwi does not remain dependant on platinum mining. ENDS//

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