By James Mutasa
A miner died after a mineshaft collapsed at Lawrence Mine, Makwe in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province.
Confirming the incident, provincial police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena identified the deceased as Jetro Nyathi. She said the accident happened on Friday last week while Nyathi was conducting illegal mining activities.
“On September 1, Nyathi got into a mineshaft about six metres deep and started panning for gold. The shaft collapsed and trapped him. He had gone with his two friends who then sought assistance from others and removed him already dead. The matter was reported to the police.We urge members of the public to do their mining activities from legal mines as engaging in illegal mining is not only risky but a criminal offence,” Mangena said.
The developments come a few weeks after several miners died at Inyathi Mine in Matabeleland North when a mineshaft also collapsed.
Mining accidents have increased in the past five years; a development that has been spurred by several factors. As of December 2022 mine fatalities had risen 37% in the year with 67 people having perished in mine-related accidents as mining firms, facing funding challenges, are bypassing protocols.
Economic hardships are also forcing artisanal miners to invade abandoned gold mines in search of the precious metal for survival albeit under dangerous working conditions.
Mining experts have attributed these fatal incidences to resource challenges being faced by miners.
Association of Mine Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) President Elton Gwatidzo recently told the Zimbabwe Independent that the incidences affected both the formal and informal mining sectors.
He noted that fatalities rose to 67 in 2022 from 42 in 2021 with a marginal decrease in serious injuries by 24,4% to 4261 in the year from 5641 in 2021.
“In terms of statistics, we are sitting badly as a country in both the formal and the informal mines. Several mines are facing challenges in terms of resourcing and supplying adequate equipment in the mining industry, therefore, there is a tendency of shortcuts as miners are focused on production without adequate resources. Lack of skills is another issue contributing to mine accidents. There is a need to continuously train and conduct awareness on various mining employees so that they are aware of their obligations in terms of managing safety,” Gwatidzo said.
He added thay issues to do with corporate governance have contributed to law breaches in the mines while substandard mining methods and shortcuts have played a role.