Govt cracks whip on gold milling cen­tres

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Ishe­mu­n­y­oro Ching­were

GOV­ERN­MENT has sus­pended op­er­a­tions at a gold milling cen­tre in Bin­dura in what it warned was the be­gin­ning of a crack­down on milling cen­tres it ac­cused of un­der­hand deal­ings rang­ing from un­der­stand­ing pro­duc­tion to wan­ton dis­re­gard of ba­sic tenets of safety.

Mines and Min­ing Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Win­ston Chi­tando paid an un­ex­pected visit at the milling cen­tre lo­cated about 10 kilo­me­tres out­side Bin­dura where he came face-to-face with work­ers who went about their busi­ness with­out the req­ui­site pro­tec­tive cloth­ing.

The min­is­ter and his del­e­ga­tion, which in­cluded the provin­cial min­ing di­rec­tor for Mashona­land Cen­tral and in­spec­tors from the Min­istry of Mines also saw first-hand work­ers ex­posed to the dan­ger of elec­tro­cu­tion as naked power lines were strewn around the milling cen­tre.

“To­day the Min­istry of Mines has closed this (Tim­site En­ter­prise) milling cen­tre and the milling cen­tre will have to work with of­fi­cials within the Min­istry to en­sure that the ar­eas of con­cern are ad­dressed and only there­after will they be al­lowed to re­sume op­er­a­tions,” said Min­is­ter Chi­tando.

Min­is­ter Chi­tando said the gold milling cen­tre had not been sub­mit­ting all monthly re­turns, while in cases where re­turns were lodged, when rec­on­ciled, did not match what was on the ground.

“In terms of safety stan­dards, there is naked wiring where peo­ple are work­ing, some of the work­ing ar­eas are not bar­ri­caded which ex­poses work­ers to dan­ger (and) the work­ers are not get­ting pro­tec­tive cloth­ing,” he said.

Min­is­ter Chi­tando warned that the crack­down will not start and end with Tim­site En­ter­prise as Gov­ern­ment was of the view that the prob­lems were not con­fined to the Bin­dura-based miller.

Gov­ern­ment is tar­get­ing to grow the coun­try’s an­nual gold de­liv­er­ies from 24, 8 tonnes achieved last year to at least 100 tonnes an­nu­ally in the medium term as a pre­cur­sor to the at­tain­ment of up­per mid­dle in­come coun­try sta­tus by 2030 as ex­pounded by Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

Min­is­ter Chi­tando is also on record say­ing that the 100 tonnes tar­get will be achieved through a three- pronged ap­proach that in­cludes ca­pac­i­tat­ing small scale min­ers and cab­bing short­ages in the sec­tor whose po­ten­tial is be­ing ham­pered by un­scrupu­lous milling cen­tres.

Also of ma­jor con­cern to Gov­ern­ment, is the wan­ton dis­re­gard for min­ing laws by milling cen­tres with the mines min­is­ter warn­ing that all found on the wrong side of the law will be stopped.

“Gov­ern­ment is con­cerned over a num­ber of is­sues re­lat­ing to milling cen­tres, firstly – un­der dec­la­ra­tion by milling cen­tres,” said the Min­is­ter.

“Se­condly, milling cen­tres not op­er­at­ing to the ex­pected level of safety stan­dards and thirdly milling cen­tres vi­o­lat­ing the con­di­tions gov­ern­ing the is­suance of li­cences for such milling cen­tres.

“To­day (yes­ter­day) marks the start of in­spec­tion, coun­try­wide, by the min­istry of milling cen­tres to en­sure that they have com­plied with the law, that there is no un­der dec­la­ra­tion, that they op­er­ate within the re­quired safety stan­dards and thirdly that they op­er­ate within the con­di­tions gov­ern­ing the is­suance of such li­cences.

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