By Habakkuk Trust
Some small scale mining companies are seemingly struggling to adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions at a time when positive cases are on the rise.
These revelations came after a snap survey conducted by Habakkuk Trust in Bubi and Umzingwane Districts to ascertain COVID-19 compliance in the sector.
Habakkuk Trust has noted with concern that in Umzingwane there is no adherence to COVID-19 regulations in mines. Workers were going on about their work in close proximity, with total disregard for social distancing. None of the workers at the mines had masks and there were no visible sanitization procedures for workers and visitors. In Bubi District, there are some small scale mines that are reportedly adhering to some lockdown regulations while others are seemingly ignorant. This is a worrying development in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak seeing that most mines house their workers in compounds within the complex.
An outbreak in the mine has the likelihood of increasing the local spread of the Coronavirus as families of miners are involved in other social and economic activities outside the mine.
The prevailing harsh economic conditions have also resulted in an influx of villagers into the Artisanal Mining Sector (A.M.S) thus resulting in overcrowding which is a condition for quick transmission of COVID-19. Habakkuk Trust Community Advocacy Action Teams who are also involved in mining activities in Bubi District confirmed that artisanal miners, who left before the lockdown are trickling back in the District to resume their activities.
Overcrowding in the artisanal mining sector is likely to lead to a resurgence of brutal conflicts that had gone low during the initial stages of the lockdown.
The Mines and Minerals Amendment bill has been stuck in Parliament since 2015. The draft bill, amongst other amendments, contains provisions to regularise artisanal mining activities.