GOVERNMENT has approved the deployment of special security operations to deter artisanal mining activities that are threatening the destruction of key communication infrastructure along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Railway line.
On Tuesday Cabinet expressed concern over rampant and indiscriminate mining operations by illegal artisanal miners across the country.
Due to vast mineral deposits including gold, Zimbabwe artisanal miners are scattered all over the country where they operate informally.
Of late, there have been growing calls and efforts to formalise the operations of artisanal miners to curb illegal mining activities and ensure adherence to proper mining and environmental laws.
In a post-Cabinet media briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said measures were being taken to ensure protection of key infrastructure from vandalism.
“Government expresses grave concern at the threat of destruction of the country’s critical communications infrastructure and economic activities posed by the illegal and indiscriminate mining activities by illegal artisanal miners across all sectors of the economy,” she said.
“Cabinet approved the deployment of special security operations to deter artisanal mining activities along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Railway line.
“This follows the presentation of a report on the matter by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development (Felix Mhona), which was adopted by Cabinet.”
The minister said the Government has noted that in the area operated by the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railway (Pvt) Ltd, artisanal miners had dug pits within the three-metre radius of the railway line.
“This has the potential of weakening the railway infrastructure leading to potential derailment and damage to the track,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet further directed that law enforcement be intensified in all areas and further security enhancement measures instituted to ensure no further costly damage of strategic communications infrastructure and derailment of economic activity caused by illegal artisanal mining activity persists.
She said stiffer penalties will also be meted out on artisanal miners who engage in destructive illegal activities.
Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) chief executive officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha, whose body represents the interests of artisanal and small-scale miners in the country, could not be reached for comment as his phone was not being answered by the time of going to print yesterday.