By LISA VIVES
Global Information Network
Rescuers are losing hope for some 40 miners trapped underground in an abandoned goldmine for nearly a week. It is the latest tragedy sparked by poverty made worse by Covid.
This week a volunteer died while trying to rescue the trapped miners. According to the Herald, a state newspaper, a boulder rolled down onto the man, pushing him into water near the shaft opening that rescuers have battled for days to drain.
The mine collapse comes weeks after six miners died in Esigodini, southern Zimbabwe, while five others died in Chegutu when mines collapsed.
Last year 24 miners died at Battlefields, Kadoma, 125km from Harare, when the shaft they were working was flooded by heavy rains.
Several small towns in the country are bearing witness to a new gold rush. Not only is the government aware of this but foreign corporates are scooping up Zimbabwean gold mines, as the rally on gold is proving a suitable hedge against COVID-19-induced global financial risk.
“The government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa government should give artisanal mining cooperatives legal standing, pay gold producers at world prices and strengthen mining dispute resolution,” wrote the International Crisis Group (ICG) in a report titled “All That Glitters is Not Gold: Turmoil in Zimbabwe’s Mining Sector.”
“Mining companies should cooperate with artisanal miners, whose representative bodies should professionalize.”
“Illegal mining has become a dangerous practice in the country,” affirmed Wellington Takavarasha, head of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation.
The prospect of immediate cash payment in U.S. dollars has lured thousands of families into the business of artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
Zimbabwe’s economy is in a tailspin, hard hit by chronic fuel and cash shortages, as well as rising inflation hovering in the region of 700% per annum. Mining is a leading source of foreign currency for Zimbabwe, where gold accounts for 60% of exports.
Added the ICG: “If Zimbabwe is to be “open for business”, as Mnangagwa has repeatedly pledged since taking office, the gold industry in