GOLD mining operations are resuming at Redwing Mine in Penhalonga just outside Mutare where a project being run by locally owned company BetterBrands had stopped operations to bring sanity in the area following increasing number of fatalities during the extraction of the precious mineral.
Artisanal miners who were working for small-scale gold mining investors in Penhalonga were flushed out and vetting for allocation of mining claims begun in earnest soon after the closure of the mining operations at the end of January.
Sanity has been restored in the area, where more than 20 people died in 13 months since January last year due to mishaps in independent artisanal miners’ operations.
The mishaps were mainly caused by lack of requisite mining protective implements on the part of artisanal miners who had invaded the area.
Manicaland provincial mining director, Mr Elton Makumbe confirmed the reopening of the BetterBrands project.
“They were given the nod to reopen. The decision was made after consideration of the amount of work they have done in restoring sanity in the area. They have conditions that relate to environmental stewardship, security in terms of beefing up and warding off illegal miners as well as the need for mining protective implements.”
“It is important to note that this is not overnight work to implement some of the set safety and environmental conditions. They can do that while generating revenue.
“Various factors were also considered including the economic aspect in terms of people’s livelihoods as well as their (BetterBrands) contribution to the fiscus.
“To us, it is a welcome move, given that they have done a lot in restoring sanity in the area. One of the conditions that we could not compromise on was the issue of gas monitors. They need to have gas monitors,” he said.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA)’s Manicaland provincial manager, Mr Kingstone Chitotombe, said there will be consistent assessment and monitoring of compliance to conditions that are tied to the permission to resume operations.
“Yes, they are reopening anytime this week or next week. We gave them conditions which they should operate within. If they comply, I do not think we will have any problems with their operations at all,” said Mr Chitotombe.
Asked about the nature of conditions they gave to BetterBrands, Mr Chitotombe said: “Some of the conditions include the provision of gas monitors. We noticed that most of the deaths that occurred were a result of gas explosions.
“We also asked them to rehabilitate the disused pits that were all over the place. They should also work on dust emission from the slime dump. Work management issues that include waste and ablution facilities around the mining are supposed to be properly installed and maintained.
“We also put it to them (BetterBrands) that they ensure there will be no vending around the mining area. They should also seal off the mining area to ensure effective control of access to the mining area. Some of the mining operation related conditions can be obtained from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.”
BetterBrands mine manager, Mr Alexio Guyo said: “We are about to open the mine. We have one or two recommendations done by the Ministry of Mines and hopefully in the next week we resume full operations.”
BetterBrands Mining Company, in conjunction with hundreds of small-scale mining investors, widely referred to as sponsors, are carrying out gold mining operations in Penhalonga where Metallon Gold used to run Redwing Mine.