Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has directed players in the mining sector to operate orderly, saying artisanal miners should not be allowed to invade closed mines dotted across the country.
Responding to a question from Kwekwe Central legislator, Mr Masango Matambanadzo, in Parliament on Wednesday, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Engineer Polite Kambamura, said artisanal miners should seek permission to occupy closed mines from the owners of the defunct mines.
This was after Mr Matambanadzo had suggested that artisanal miners be allowed to occupy disused mines and exploit claims that are lying idle as a way of earning a living.
“The Honourable Member said that artisanal miners are going to mine the closed mines. That is illegal. They are not even allowed to be seen entering those mines. If they enter those mines, they will be arrested,” said the Deputy Minister.
“We do not want them to enter these mines because there are gases such as carbon monoxide underground and this can lead to death. If one manages to continue mining, the gas has an after effect after they would have come out of the mine.”
He denied Mr Matambanadzo’s claims that the mines that have been closed were closed because of sanctions, saying there were other reasons and Government was seized with the matter to see to it that the defunct mines re-open. “As a ministry, we came up with a ‘use-it or lose-it’ policy for us to get clarification from the owners of the mines as to why they closed the mines and when they intend to resume operations.
“However, if there is no convincing response, the mines will be taken by the Government,” said Eng Kambamura. The Government’s call for order comes against the background of recent violent clashes involving artisanal miners in different parts of the country. Law enforcement agents have also activated their systems in a bid to restore order in the small scale mining sector.
Under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), he said President Mnangagwa has clarified the need to re-open all closed mines.
“As a ministry, we are proceeding to ensure that these mines begin operations. We have already commenced this exercise and in a few months, you will see other mines opening,” he said.
The TSP focuses on stabilising the macro-economy, and the financial sector, introducing necessary policy and institutional reforms to translate to a private sector-led economy, addressing infrastructure gaps and launching quick-wins to stimulate growth.
To buttress the TSP, in October last year, President Mnangagwa launched a strategic roadmap to the attainment of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 as Government has announced efforts to accelerate the sector’s contribution to the economy.
It is hoped that the strategic mining roadmap, gold will contribute US$4 billion, platinum US$3 billion while chrome, iron, steel, diamonds and coal will contribute US$1 billion. Lithium is expected to contribute US$500 million while other minerals will contribute US$1,5 billion. [email protected]