Illegal artisanal miner infestation in Penhalonga is compromising the security of small-scale miners’ operations as they are passing on the intelligence of the movement of rich gold ore movement to armed criminal gangs now popularly known as Mashurugwi.
Manicaland Miners’ Association (MMA) secretary-general Lovemore Kasha told a Green governance Penhalonga peace dialogue meeting in Mutare recently that besides conflict with illegal artisanal miners they were also in conflict with the local authority which was allocating stands in areas riddled with shafts and over underground mining tunnels.
This adds, he said to age-old conflict with farmers with whom there is perpetual conflict over land use.
Kasha however said their biggest threat was coming from a heavy infestation of illegal gold diggers, particularly in Penhalonga and Odzi areas.
“Illegal artisanal miners are invading mines and giving signals to machete gangs on the movement on ores leading to the raiding of mills… some of them have guns and even AK 47 rifles,” he said.
Kasha said regularising their mining operations would go a long way in bringing sanity to the sector.
“We have engaged the ministry of mines and even the minister to organise the illegal miners into groups which would then be formally given claims to mine,” he said.
He said currently all miners are now working with the police with whom they have shared a register of all their employees and contractors to assist in their screening of illegals.
Kasha said they had issues with the local authority’s decision to allocate stands in some areas which had shafts and underground tunnels which he said were a danger to the prospective home seekers.
“We usually have conflict with farmers but we now have challenges with the local authority which gives stands to home seekers in mining areas.
“Mutasa RDC is giving stands in areas where there are tunnels and shafts. It’s even dangerous to the beneficiaries of such allocations,” he said.
In a candid briefing of the security situation in gold mining areas, Kasha said there are some people who claim to have connections with the ruling elite who just annex areas for mining without even registering with the ministry of mines.
“Some people claim to have political connections and simply annex areas that they say I have the powers and I will mine whether I have a license or not. It’s happening,” Kasha said.