By Munyaradzi Musiiwa
GOVERNMENT has ordered Falcon Gold Mining Company in Shurugwi and other mining concerns within its proximity to immediately cease operations as a safety measure following the collapse of Wanderer Mine on Boxing Day.
Speaking during the tour of Wanderer Mine in Shurugwi, Midlands Minister of State Larry Mavima said Government had resolved to suspend operations at the mine and would soon evacuate all miners including artisanal miners who were illegally extracting gold.
Minister Mavima said Falcon Gold and other mining concerns around Wanderer should harmonise their operations and fully comply with environmental regulations related to mining.
“What happened here is unfortunate although there were no lives lost. We have made a temporary arrangement that the mine has to be shut down and no mining activities are going to take place until we have determined precisely how to operate from there on. So all the operations by falcon and tributary miners should cease immediately so that we avoid loss of life or injury,” he said.
Minister Mavima said the Government will engage national security forces to provide security at the mine until order is restored.
“We have deployed our national security to provide security at the mine. We are going to evacuate all artisanal miners who were extracting ore illegally. We have instructed Falcon Gold and the tributaries to sit down, identify weak areas. We do not want to shut down operations completely but we want organised activities,” he said.
Midlands provincial mining director Mr Nelson Munyanduri said the ground which was being threatened by illegal mining activities taking place in the area was weakened by earth tremors and gave in.
Mr Munyanduri said no one was injured or killed as a result of the collapse contrary to earlier media reports that nine people had been trapped underground.
He said there are indications that the ground might continue giving in as more cracks continue to emerge on the surface.
“We are all aware that on December 22 we experienced earth tremors. The following day, rocks in the mining tunnels at Wanderer started falling from the roof of the shafts.
“On 24 December, major cracks emerged on the surface. On Boxing Day the ground gave in. The area that collapsed has a width of about 20m and length of about 180m.
“Cracks are still visible on the surface and there is a high likelihood that the ground might collapse. We are fortunate that there were no casualties when the ground gave in. No missing person was reported,” he said.
Mr Munyanduri said the mine once killed 600 people when it collapsed in 1952.
“The mine was established in 1903 and is owned by New Dawn. It used to produce 500 kg per month. It collapsed in 1952 and killed 600 people.
“It was abandoned and reopened in 2014 as a community initiative. As a result of the mining activities the miners blasted and destroyed the pillars supporting the roof and this also contributed to the mine collapse,” he said. The Chronicle