Two mine workers have lost their lives in an accident which occurred along Angwa River in Hurungwe district, as mishaps involving small scale miners continue unabated, Business Times can report.
Over the past few months, Zimbabwe has been experiencing mine accidents, mostly at illegally run small-scale mines that that have resulted in the death of several miners.
The accident along Angwa River was reported to the police and the other relevant authorities in the area including MP Hurungwe North, Ability Gandawa, who assisted with some funds to rescue some of the trapped bodies.
But, the accident, which happened in December 2020, was not reported to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, as players feared the mining area would come under government spotlight, insiders said this week.
The area is known for riverbed mining for close to two decades, despite government banning alluvial and riverbed mining several years ago.
A well-placed source and an eyewitness confirmed to Business Times during a visit to the accident site that the mine accident claimed two people.
But it was not yet clear if there were still more people trapped inside.
“Gandawa is aware of this incident and even reports were made to the police, but this matter was swept under the carpet for fear of spotlight because top people are protecting the place as they are doing alluvial
and riverbed mining,” a source told Business Times.
He added: “Top people in government and security services have been protecting this area to advance their alluvial gold mining activities and this case could not be reported.
Villagers were also gagged from reporting this matter hence the reason why it could not receive any publicity. No post-mortem was done and the two deceased who were brothers were buried just like that.”
The area is believed to have rich deposits of gold. It is estimated that lucky gold panners make close to US$500 per day.
Gandawa confirmed the mine accident.
“ZRP was made aware of the incident and they even attended the funeral. I would want to admit that the issue was never taken far,” Gandawa told Business Times.
Gandawa admitted the river has attracted a lot of mining interests despite the ban on riverbed gold mining.
Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary, Onismo Moyo, said the Provincial mining director, for Mashonaland West Province has not been made aware of the accident.
He promised to revert with facts.
He had, however, not done so by the time of going to print.
Zimbabwe Miners Federation spokesperson Dosman Mangisi said the association had not been notified of the accident and he would have to check with the miners on the ground and confirm. He had not done so by the time of going to press.
Since September last year, Zimbabwe experienced series of fatal accidents that have occurred mainly
at abandoned gold mines around the country, with more than a dozen people still trapped underground and unlikely to be retrieved alive.
In November last year six illegal miners, including four from one family, were trapped underground when a mine collapsed in Matshetshe, Esigodini, and Matabeleland South Province.
During the same month another mine disaster occurred at Ran Mine in Bindura, Mashonaland Central Province, resulting in at least 10 illegal gold miners trapped underground after a mine shaft collapse.
In December, three miners died when two ore wagons fell into an inclined mineshaft and crushed the miners at Kunyu mine, Mudzi in Mashonaland East Province.
Mines and Mining Development minister, Winston Chitando, has expressed concern over the rising number of mine accidents.