SHURUGWI: Police in the Midlands have warned that Wonderer Mine is a death trap following successive incidences of mine collapse.
Police also say they have alerted the Ministry of Mines of the dangers artisanal miners face by operating at the mine and further warned that if they continue to ignore warnings, there might be a disaster soon.
“Wanderer Mine is a death trap and if the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development continues to take a back seat and not put in place safety measures, there might be a national disaster very soon,” warned Shurugwi Police in a comment after a recent partial collapse at the mine.
The mine is owned by one Nicholas Gara.
History tells that the mine once collapsed in 2018 opening a very big pit of about 100 meters deep and a diameter of about 120 meters.
During the recent collapse, part of the mine gave in and became an extention of the already existing pit.
Police was however notified of the recent collapse and say they got alarm from an anonymous caller.
“Information of the recent collapse was received from an anonymous caller who phoned the officer in charge Shurugwi who tasked a team to visit the area…the team noted an extension to the already existing pit and some very big cracks and boulders hanging in indication that the mine would collapse again anytime,” wrote police in a memo.
“Also noted were illegal gold panners who were busy looking for gold traces at the walls of the pit ignorant of the dangers posed by their environment,” the memo further reads.
Miners on the ground however confirmed to police that no casualty was recorded.
“The mine had shown signs of collapsing three days prior so all who were underground had been evacuated,” said Shepard Muchechetere, an employee.
In one of the most recent mine disaster, 24 people died at Battlefields, Kadoma, when the shaft they were working was flooded following heavy rains.
Rescuers took five days to clear water from the mine shafts. Only one doctor was on site during the rescue operation.
The government has been criticised for failing to regulate mining activities in the country, and allowing companies to leave disused mines unguarded.
Mining is however a leading source of foreign currency for Zimbabwe, where gold accounts for 60% of exports.
The gold sector provides work for nearly 10% of the country’s population, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).
But the risky practice of illegal mining has been on the rise in the gold-rich province due to high levels of joblessness, exacerbated by a Covid-19 lockdown that has triggered a rush to the goldmines as families struggle under tough economic conditions.
Accidents caused by explosions and flooding are common in illegal mining, which is often carried out under dangerous conditions and with little regard for safety standards.