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Duration Gold promoting formal mining by artisanal miners at Mvuma’s Athens mine

By Business Reporter –Tuesday 16 February 2021

HARARE (Mining Index) – DURATION Gold instituted a gold mining scheme for artisanal and small-scale miners to work on its gold claims as cooperatives.

Interviews conducted by Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyer Association (ZELA) with artisanal miners indicated that Duration Gold started a new program to promote formal mining by artisanal miners.

The mine entered into agreements with the artisanal miners to work on the old mine pits and dumps at Athens mine. 

It was reported that more than 30 miners are working as cooperatives of artisanal miners in the area.  

All the artisanal miners are required to enter the mine with adequate personal protective equipment, including complying with COVID-19 prevention, containment and social distancing measures inside and outside the mine site.

ZELA observed that at the mine entrance elaborate security controls are in place.

Security guards monitor every visitor and artisanal miners to ensure that they are logged and will be wearing masks and are sanitised.

Social distancing is encouraged. In addition, billboards on COVID-19 are also visible and prominently displayed at the entrance. 

Local communities are surviving on gold panning and small-scale chrome mining.

Athens Mine is located in Mvuma in the Midlands Province.

The gold mine was closed and is under care and maintenance.

Ownership of the mining claim was passed from Falcon Gold, Lonrho, to Duration Gold since the time of closure.

Mvuma is now a shadow of its former high activity and status.

Gold mining started in 1910 and production ceased in January 1998 due to unstable ground conditions which caused a major accident.

When the mine was operating at full capacity, Job seekers came from across the country and neighbouring countries of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia seeking employment at Athens Mine which according to some records in 1914 employed 110 Europeans and 1,500 Africans.

A mine shaft collapse affected production and the low price of gold resulting in halting of operations in 1998.

Residents attest that when Athens Mine was closed it was taken over by a local company, Duration Gold – headquartered in Bulawayo – working the gold ore dumps.  

Closure of the mine left the mining community of Mvuma poverty stricken.

Historically, more than 75 000 people living in the central region district of Chirumanzu depended on the now dilapidated town.

Unemployment is high as the town does not have other sustainable forms of industrial activities employing many people. An edited extract from ZELA’s Situational Report. ENDS// 

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