Beggars with a mine of gold
Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS are literally sitting on a goldmine that was almost invaded by illegal miners popularly known as Omakorokoza, but they have security forces to thank for protecting their treasured gold mining claim in Inyathi, Bubi District.
The illegal miners have since invaded an area next to the Bosso claim.
There’s no structure or perimeter fence around Highlanders’ claim which they secured close to two years ago.
President Mnangagwa awarded Highlanders the claim in 2020 as part of empowering the club to expand their revenue generation streams.
The major mine breakthrough came at a time when Highlanders were celebrating 95 years of existence and was a perfect present from the Head of State and Government.
The Government through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development approved relevant paperwork for Bosso to start operations at their gold mining claim in December 2020, but lack of funding and failure to lure partners saw the licence expiring.
In April this year, Highlanders got their licence.
Four months after being authorised to start operations, Saturday Chronicle visited Highlanders’ mining claim on Thursday to check what the club is doing to pursue the project which has a potential to turn around Bosso’s fortunes once fully functional.
The news crew had to navigate through the rough terrain, crossing Mbembesi River just after Famona Shops which are eight kilometres from former Zimbabwe cricket icon Heath Streak’s home, then going on to negotiate through the thicket at the base of a mountain that separates Highlanders’ claim and a mine known to locals as koJoseph.
Along the way to Highlanders’ claim, the news crew was directed to the site by a man who was coming from fetching water at a nearby body, who identified himself as Ndlovu.
“When you pass old cattle pens, take the next left turn towards the mountain. Just keep on this road, as you go round the mountain, you’ll go uphill and that is where there is the Bosso mining claim. It’s before you get to Village 16.
“I know the place because I work koJoseph, so I’ve heard that the area you’re looking for is ours,” says Ndlovu who reveals that he is a staunch Highlanders supporter.
The news crew discovered omakorokoza, who are said to be playing the “cat and mouse” game with the security forces, have been extracting ore from many shafts that are near the Highlanders claim.
Johane Phiri, a villager and worker at a nearby mine, said the presence of security forces has seen illegal miners disappearing during the day.
“There’s been an increased number of patrols by security forces and that is why you find this place deserted. But if you look at the pits they’re fresh, an indication that they might have left in the morning.
“This area (Bosso claim) has been lucky that omakorokoza haven’t invaded it because of the presence of the security forces. It has been lying idle for a while. There was a guy who once set up his stamp mill here and he was evicted long back.
“We started seeing some activities here on Tuesday. It seems the owners have started surveying the area. You missed the people who were working here as they left just before midday,” said Phiri.
Saturday Chronicle established that the people that Phiri was referring to were geologists sent by Highlanders.
This publication has it on good authority that a number of potential partners have demanded a bankable geological report before investing at the mine.
Highlanders are said to have lost an undisclosed amount of money in the past by engaging geologists who only confirmed that the place had gold but didn’t provide details of where the reserves, rifts and ore can be found.
Sources said a working committee appointed by Highlanders’ leadership, made up of people with mining experience is expected to get a briefing from the geologist tomorrow.
“There’s a working committee with mining experience that was set up and has some members of the executive in it. It was after this committee came that it was realised that a number of things were being done wrong but now they’re providing guidance and things are starting to move.
“Once the geological report is done, not eyokudobha amatshe uthi kulegolide, but a detailed one is presented, it will give direction,” a source said.
The Inyathi venture is expected to improve the club’s cash flow and turn the Bulawayo giants into a profit-making business entity.
Presently, gold is the country’s largest foreign currency earner, accounting for at least 65 percent of the mining industry valued at US$5,2 billion.
With so much potential in the mining industry, Highlanders stand to benefit and expectations are that they will use the proceeds from the mine to set up a strong base for junior development, manage and uplift its facilities which include the Clubhouse as well as their camping house in Luveve.
Through proceeds from the mine, Highlanders should be able to create generational wealth that will enable the institution to favourably compete in the player market with company bankrolled clubs.
Also, the mine, when fully functional, will give Bosso a soft landing when present partners, Sakunda, Utande as well as Sanctuary Insurance, decide against extending their partnerships.
Knowing that they have sound financial backing, Highlanders will not be headed to the sponsorship or partnership negotiating table disadvantaged and will claim the true value of their brand having some leverage.
The Bosso mine will also provide jobs to youths surrounding Inyathi.
Asked to give an update about the mine, Bosso spokesperson Nozibelo Maphosa said: “We’re seized with some ground work on the site. Mining has many different processes, so we’re taking it process by process.”–@ZililoR