‘Govt is hiding actual number of deaths at Scott Sakupwanya’s mine’
There are concerns that the government of Zimbabwe is sweeping under the carpet the correct number of miners who are dying every week at Scott Sakupwanya’s gold-rich Redwing Mine in Penhalonga.
In January this year, Nehanda Radio revealed that unsafe mining practices by Better Brands Mining Company-owned by Sakupwanya were reportedly resulting in miners dying every week.
According to Metallon Corporation, Redwing Mine played a major role in economic stabilisation and domestic resource mobilisation over the years, producing 1.1 million ounces of gold between 1966 and 2004.
But after the mine was captured by Zanu-PF elites, unsafe practices were employed largely characterising artisanal miners who know nothing about mining. They are backed by powerful politicians who equally know nothing about mining.
Executive Director at Centre for National Resource Governance, Farai Maguwu told Nehanda Radio that the government is under-stating the number of people that are dying at Redwing Mine due to improper gold extraction.
He claimed that, for the past three years, at least three to five people have been dying every week.
“Government is sweeping under the carpet the number of deaths that are occurring at Redwing Mine. Ever since Scott Sakupwanya took that mine, people are dying.
“Three to five people die every week and this has been happening over a stretch of about three years. You can imagine how many lives have been lost. Government is not willing to take action, Maguwu said.
He added that CNRG wrote to the Ministry of Mines explaining the disaster taking place at Redwing Mine but they are yet to respond.
“We have written to the Ministry of Mines, they said that they would come back to us and already it’s almost eight months ever since they promised. So, that is the problem when the mining industry is politicized,” he said.
Nehanda Radio has the copy of the letter where CNRG petitioned the Ministry of Mines to intervene and stop Better Brands operations in Penhalonga before more lives are lost.
“An Environmental Impact Assessment was never done for the new model of mining introduced by Better Brands and subsequently no environmental management plan is in place to mitigate environmental damage,” read the letter.
“Better Brands entered into an unwritten production sharing agreement with sponsors and artisanal miners. Better Brands offers gold milling and buying services to the sponsors and artisanal miners. In turn, the sponsors and artisanal miners get paid an amount equivalent to 40% of the gold they produce.
“Some unprocessed sands accumulated from milling are transported to Midlandsfor leaching and the gold recovered is not declared to Redwing Mine. The model of mining employed by Better Brands is against responsible mining tenets in the whole gold mining supply chain.
“The environmental destruction unfolding in Penhalonga is now beyond redemption. Artisanal mining is not supervised by experienced mining engineers and other technical experts.”
On Thursday a classroom at Globe and Phoenix Primary School in Kwekwe collapsed into a mine shaft due to improper underground mining activities allegedly being carried out by powerful politicians.
A dozen students sustained injuries and taken to hospital. Government is yet to issue a statement regarding the matter and how it is going to be resolved.
Illegal miners have been digging under where there are underground tunnels left behind by the Germans who once worked at the now disused mine.