Dur­ban Mine stand­off en­ters day six, il­le­gal min­ers refuse to budge

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Pamela Shumba

THE own­ers of Dur­ban Mine in Bubi Dis­trict were yes­ter­day still bat­tling to end a six-day stand­off with scores of il­le­gal min­ers who have been re­fus­ing to come out of the mine shaft since Mon­day last week.

More than 300 amako­rokoza were last week trapped in the mine af­ter an un­named busi­ness­man, who they each paid $70, with­drew a lad­der that they used to en­ter the more than 120 me­tre deep mine.

The un­named busi­ness­man al­legedly pan­icked when mine own­ers called the po­lice af­ter the il­le­gal pan­ners, most of them from Shu­rugwi, Chegutu, Kadoma, Mashava, Mure­hwa and Zvisha­vane, in­vaded the mine to ex­tract gold.

The il­le­gal min­ers had been trapped for more than 48 hours on Mon­day last week when help fi­nally ar­rived.

A ma­jor­ity of them re­fused to come out of the mine fear­ing ar­rest.

By Fri­day last week, res­cuers had con­vinced about 130 to come out. Those who re­mained re­port­edly threat­ened to at­tack res­cuers with ma­chetes, although they had been with­out food in the shafts for five days.

The direc­tor of the mine, Mr John Moore, who is out of the coun­try, is said to have shut down the mine last year.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials at the mine, it has ca­pac­ity to pro­duce more than 18kg of gold ev­ery month.

By yes­ter­day, mine work­ers had re­port­edly cleared amako­rokoza from the first three lev­els of the mine and were en­gag­ing those in the fourth and fi­nal level.

Of­fi­cials from the Zim­babwe Min­ing Fed­er­a­tion (ZMF) vis­ited the mine on Satur­day to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion and map the way for­ward.

ZMF spokesper­son Mr Dos­man Mangisi said when they vis­ited the mine, some of the 300 il­le­gal min­ers were still un­der­ground.

“Although most of the min­ers had va­cated the mine, we were told that some of the il­le­gal min­ers were still un­der­ground. We could hear sounds of ex­plo­sives be­ing blasted from un­der­ground. The act­ing mine man­ager Mr Onias Shanyu­rai said the re­main­ing min­ers were at the fourth level of the mine, which is more than 120 me­tres un­der­ground,” said Mr Mangisi.

“Ini­tially the man­age­ment and the po­lice couldn’t go un­der­ground to ar­rest them be­cause some of them had dan­ger­ous weapons such as ma­chetes and they were threat­en­ing to harm any­body dis­turb­ing them. They later started com­ing out in small groups and some of them left with gold ore,” said Mr Mangisi.

He said it was dan­ger­ous for the il­le­gal min­ers to en­ter the mine by force to mine and drill with­out ad­her­ing to safety mea­sures.

Mr Mangisi said more than 600 il­le­gal min­ers were sus­pected to be ex­tract­ing gold from the mine since De­cem­ber last year.

The il­le­gal min­ers were re­port­edly each pay­ing mine work­ers $500 to be al­lowed to ex­tract gold for three days.

The mine work­ers have not been paid by their em­ployer since the mine was shut down.

Mr Mangisi said ZMF would soon en­gage Mr Moore to dis­cuss the chal­lenges he is fac­ing and map the way for­ward.

“We un­der­stand that Mr Moore sup­ports small scale min­ers, in­clud­ing women in min­ing in the area and has given away more than 80 min­ing claims to the com­mu­nity.

“He has also built a stamp mill for the min­ers although there is no elec­tric­ity. We’re yet to un­der­stand why the il­le­gal min­ers have in­vaded his mine,” said Mr Mangisi.

He said the ZMF has re­solved to iden­tify all idle min­ing claims and ne­go­ti­ate with the own­ers to trib­ute them to com­mu­ni­ties and lo­cal min­ing as­so­ci­a­tions.

“We want gold in the coun­try. Tribut­ing the min­ing claims will help us reg­u­late them, use ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nol­ogy and re­duce il­le­gal gold pan­ning and smug­gling of gold. The gold that is mined at such mines is not taken to Fidelity and the money can’t even be ac­counted for.

“If we ig­nore such ac­tiv­i­ties, we’re let­ting down the econ­omy. That’s where our fu­ture lies. The money should be chan­nelled to the econ­omy,” said Mr Mangisi.

The Sec­re­tary for Bubi small scale min­ers, Mr Ben­jamin Ndlovu, con­firmed that they had re­ceived min­ing claims from the busi­ness­man.

He added that the min­ers who had in­vaded Dur­ban Mine were not lo­cal. “The lo­cal min­ers know how Mr Moore has sup­ported the lo­cal com­mu­nity and they wouldn’t in­vade his mine. Th­ese min­ers are not from here in Bubi,” said Mr Ndlovu.

Dur­ban Mine act­ing man­ager Mr Onias Shanyu­rai as­sists an in­jured il­le­gal miner and his col­league dur­ing the on­go­ing res­cue at­tempt last week

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