Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
POLICE have been called to restore order at the recently re-opened Sabi Gold Mine in Zvishavane as artisanal gold miners (amakorokoza), who had thrived on the 24-month-long closure of the mine, have refused to leave.
Reports of armed clashes between mine security personnel and the artisanal miners are said to be continuing, with indications that casualties from both parties have been recorded.
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)-owned gold producer, Sabi Gold Mine, resumed operations last month after two years and expects to produce about 25kg of gold this month.
However, the mine may fail to meet the target due to the Amakorokoza menace. Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Cde Fred Moyo confirmed the development.
Cde Moyo said he was going to lead a special delegation to the mine to bring order.
“There are reports of artisanal miners who are refusing to move out of the mine. They are said to be looting gold ore even after the mine resumed operations after a two year closure. This is very sad considering that we found an investor and these artisanal or informal miners are disrupting operations. I hear that the police have been called in to bring order,” he said.
Cde Moyo said he had engaged chiefs, political party representatives and the warring parties for a round table to bring an end to the negative development.
“After having access to the mine for the past two years, they are now being ordered off and I will be going there with the hope of bringing the two parties together for a lasting solution. It is my hope that the artisanal miners group themselves and we find them somewhere to mine so that they do not disturb operations,” he said.
Sources at the mine said the artisanal miners were allegedly throwing explosives at security details from the mine with the latter retaliating with gunfire in mining shafts.
“The police are now doing constant checks at this mine which got about $13million injection from the government and a private partner,” said the source.
Meanwhile, Cde Moyo said the mine is expected to produce 25kg of gold this month. Sabi ceased operations in 2011 due to shortage of working capital and has been under judicial management since 2014.
The mine got a new lease of life after government injected $7 million worth of equipment with a consortium of local investors injecting $6 million.
Baldwin Holdings, a South African company recently completed refurbishment of the mine.
Artisanal miners invaded the mine and have destroyed key infrastructure.
Sabi Gold Mine, the fourth largest mine in Zvishavane after Mimosa, Shabanie and Murowa Diamond mines, used to produce about 50 kilogrammes of gold per month with a total workforce of 420.