Zimbabwe Gold Mine Shaft Collapse Leaves Dozens Trapped

Gold Miners at work (Photo: Segun Olotu)

 

At least 40 informal miners in Zimbabwe have been trapped underground after a shaft in a disused gold mine collapsed, the country’s miners’ federation said Thursday.

The incident occurred late Wednesday in the town of Bindura, around 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of the capital Harare, said Wellington Takavarasha, head of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation.

Takavarasha told AFP the miners were working inside the disused Ran Gold Mine when a shaft caved in.

Six miners have since been pulled from the rubble and taken to hospital.

“Those who were rescued said there were about 40 people in the mine shaft at the time of the incident,” said Takavarasha, adding that rescue efforts were ongoing.

Mining is a major source of foreign currency for Zimbabwe, where gold alone accounts for 60 percent of exports.

The landlocked southern African country is home to vast gold and mineral reserves, including diamonds and platinum.

The gold sector provides jobs to nearly 10 percent of the country’s population, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).

Small-scale miners often operate illegally to avoid selling their bullion to the state-owned buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners, as they are paid only 55 percent in foreign currency.

The remaining 45 percent is paid in Zimbabwean dollars, which is notorious for its weakness.

Accidents are relatively common in decommissioned mines, particularly when the ground is loosened by rain.

 

 

-AFP

Improved Gold Mining Operations Will Generate 250,000 Jobs – Buhari

President Buhari observes as CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele presents a Cheque to Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the improved gold mining operations in the country will generate no fewer than 250,000 jobs and over $500m annually in royalties and taxes to the Federal Government.

The President disclosed this on Thursday at an official presentation of locally mined gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMDI), where he also reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to establishing gold refineries in Nigeria.

He said this laudable initiative would support efforts at the creation of jobs for Nigerians, diversifying the revenue base, and improving foreign exchange reserves.

Reiterating the determination of the Federal Government to combat illegal mining activities, the President expressed concern that Nigeria lost close to $3b from 2012 – 2018 due to illegal smuggling of gold.

Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative

‘‘With the implementation of the PAGDMI scheme which will result in the set-up of accredited gold buying centres across key mining areas, artisanal miners and SMEs engaged in mining will be able to capture the value of their work.

‘‘These operations will help in diversifying our revenue base. The sale of gold by artisanal miners and SMEs at accredited centers will help the government in realizing royalties and taxes from the sale of these assets.

‘‘These developments will also help in improving our foreign reserves by enabling the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase the amount of gold in its reserves.

Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative

‘‘These gold assets which will be purchased in Naira, will not only help to bolster our international reserves, it will also provide a hedge against inflation and other economic volatilities associated with foreign currencies that are held in our reserves,’’ the President said.

President Buhari noted that in addition to the potential revenue gains that will occur from mining operations, efforts are being made to enable the setting up of gold refineries in Nigeria.

He expressed optimism that these measures would lead to the creation of additional job opportunities across the gold value chain and also help the nation capture the additional value created from the gold refining process.

On environmental degradation, President Buhari pledged that Government would pay close attention to safety and environmental measures to protect workers and the environment.

The Nigerian leader also used the occasion to commend all stakeholders involved in the PAGMI for their painstaking efforts in developing a programme aimed at improved sourcing and refining of high-quality gold bars, derived from minefields in Nigeria.

The President recalled that the PAGMI, which was launched in 2019, was well-timed, considering the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and indeed on the Nigerian economy.

He said the impact of COVID-19 and the containment measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, had led to a slowdown in global growth, which is projected to decline into negative territory for the first time since the Great Depression.

‘‘It has also led to a 40 percent drop in crude oil prices. In Nigeria, the drop in crude oil prices has had a significant impact on government revenue, as well as on our foreign exchange earnings.

‘‘In responding to this challenge, it is therefore paramount that we strengthen our efforts at implementing policies and programs that will enable a greater diversification of the Nigerian economy.

‘‘Enabling investment in the Solid Mineral sector, is a key part of the government’s economic diversification program.

‘‘Given our current estimated gold reserves of over 200m ounces, most of which have not been exploited, developing sustainable programmes that will catalyse increased investment in the extraction and refining of gold sourced from mines in Nigeria, is indeed vital,’’ he said.

Emphasizing the benefits of the PAGMDI, the President explained that it will support job creation efforts particularly for artisanal miners, by providing them with a guaranteed offtake by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Furthermore, he said efforts are being made to support artisanal miners in improving the standard of the gold that will be sold to the apex bank, in order to ensure that they meet international benchmarks.

According to him, the initiative will enable the deployment of financing schemes that will help miners improve on the quality of their mining operations.

‘‘The gold buying program by the Central Bank will ensure that artisanal miners are no longer subjected to the volatility in gold prices that occurs in the absence of credible off-takers, which has often led to a significant loss in the value of gold sold by miners, as well as in encouraging illegal smuggling,’’ he said.

Zamfara Residents React To FG’s Suspension Of Mining Activities

 

Some residents in Zamfara state have expressed optimism that the recent ban on mining activities will help tackle the insecurity situation that has affected the state.

The residents who spoke to Channels TV also urged the security agencies posted to the state for the “Operation Puff Adder”, to intensify efforts at ending the acts of the bandits.

An activist based in Gusau, Adamu  Kotorkoshi, said the suspension of mining activities is in the right direction because the issue of mistaken identity will be duly addressed.

“Most of the communities affected by insurgency are where these mining activities take place, where there is a large deposit of gold. It will give the security agencies an edge over the bandits because they cannot differentiate the miners from the bandits.

“Anybody found in the bush will be arrested; necessary actions will be taken in order to bring an end to the issue of banditry in Zamfara state,” he stated.

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For some other residents, the decision to suspend mining activities by the Federal Government will help improve businesses and reduce several attacks they witness from bandits.

They, however, urged the government to expedite the process within two weeks and a month in order for peace to return to the state.

The Federal Government ordered the suspension of all mining activities in Zamfara state on Sunday.

The directive was made known by the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu at a press conference in Abuja.

The mandate gave all foreigners, legal and illegal miners, 48 hours to vacate their locations.