A crackdown by the police and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) on illegal gold miners has forced Zim Goldfields, a joint venture between Zimbabwe and Belarus, to end its operations in Penhalonga, in Mutare district, Manicaland Province, Business Times can report.
The joint venture was signed in 2018 by the Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando and Belarus Chief of Presidential Affairs, Victor Sheiman.
Goldfields had been granted the right to mine gold in the province.
But the recent government ban on riverbed mining and the threat of illegal gold miners, forced the company to stop operations.
The joint venture has been subject to controversy as many questioned government policies with regards to riverbed mining.
“After some time, illegal operations were getting out of hand so our company has written numerous reports to the local and district offices of police, EMA, Ministry of Mines. Police had to come on the ground and hold operations against illegal mining, explaining to the local community about mining rights and their importance. The problem was not solved as the illegal miners were benefiting more,” Zim Goldfields representative Dmitri Krasilnikov told Business Times.
“[Also], due to the ban on riverbed mining our operations had to stop and currently we do not hold any operations in that area, as our company strictly follows all government regulations.”
Krasilnikov hoped the ban “will soon be lifted and we will be able to hold proper operations”.
Zim Goldfields was planning to set up a test plant which has now been shelved.