Police on Wednesday ordered the suspension of operations at Nugget Mine in Matobo District following a renewed fight between Bulawayo businessmen and a consortium of youths over control of the gold mine.
Officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Minerals Unit visited the mine, situated about 18km from Bulawayo to conduct their own investigations following the dispute.
Detectives were interviewing the responsible personnel and later convened a meeting with the mine management.
One of the investigating officers who refused to be named, confirmed that operations had been suspended at the mine.
“We have resolved to suspend mining activities at Nugget Mine as we continue with our investigations following the dispute over the ownership of the mining claims,” said the detective.
Soon after police had ordered the suspension of operations, a contracted mining expert only identified as Mr Smith immediately complied by switching off the machinery at the cyanide plant and the workers left the site.
“We were ordered to stop mining activities forthwith and as a law abiding citizen I could not defy a police directive. I was just hired on a tributary contract basis to offer my expertise and once the dispute is resolved we will resume the operations,” said Mr Smith.
The dispute involves Mining Investment Syndicate whose directors include two politicians, Isaac Dakamela and Charles Isaiah Chiponda and reportedly a senior police officer against a group of youths trading as Duive Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd.
Duive is made up of a group of youths who benefited from the Government indigenisation and empowerment programme and have alleged that the politicians are using their political muscle to evict them from the mine.
The mine is situated on Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) land in Matopos. One of the directors of Duive, Mr Themba Maphosa accused Mining Investment Syndicate of stealing their ore.
“Nugget Mine was allocated to us by the mining commissioner for Bulawayo District after Mining Investment Syndicate failed to apply for renewal of the Special Grant. We are the new owners and we have documents to prove that.
“We have decided to rope in the police because we tried to resolve the issue with the directors of Mining Investment Syndicate but failed,” he said.
According to a letter from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Mining Investment Syndicate’s Special Grant expired in March 2013. The document was signed by the mining commissioner for Bulawayo District, Ms Florence Lindiwe Thusi on 28 August 2013.
According to one document, a Special Grant (Number 5835), was issued to Duive Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd in terms of Part XIX of the Mines and Minerals Act, Chapter 21:05. The document, which is valid for 12 months, empowers the holder to carry out mining operations for gold on the designated land.
The holder pays an annual rental of $5 000 to the mining commissioner. In the event that the rental remains unpaid for 14 days from the date of the mining commissioner’s demand, it shall be deemed to have been cancelled as at the date of issue.
The area measuring 250 hectares is within RA 1091 in the Mining District of Bulawayo. The two parties met at the mine on Monday to try and resolve the dispute but failed.
According to the permit, which expires in April 2014, Cde Chiponda’s company made its first payment of $1 000 to the PWMA on 15 April 2013.
“We are the rightful owners of mining claims because we have a permit from Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and we are now waiting to be issued with a Special Grant by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. Duive Enterprises do not have that permit and there is no way you can get a Special Grant without permit from the Matopo National Park who are the owners of land,” he said.
Chiponda said their mining activities were legal at Nugget Mine. He said he invested about $25 000 in terms of machinery.
“They (Duive Enterprises) have 250 hectares, which is open to them for prospecting and ours is only nine hectares but surprisingly they also want to grab our claims just because we have invested in a lot in the mine and we know that these youths are only after my machinery,” he said.
Mr Maphosa is accusing Chiponda of manipulating the parks to issue his company with a permit because he sits on its board. Ms Thuli reiterated that she was not aware of the dispute and declined to comment on the issue. The two companies first clashed in June last year. The Chronicle