A total of 21 deaths in 13 months has left a booming gold mining project run by locally-owned company Better Brands in Penhalonga just outside Mutare being stopped so as to bring sanity in the area following an increasing number of fatalities during the gold extraction processes as well as environmental degradation.
Better Brands Mining Company, in conjunction with hundreds of small-scale mining investors, widely referred to as sponsors, are carrying out gold mining operations in the Penhalonga area where Redwing Mine used to operate – a project that has become a source of livelihood for thousands of youths from Mutare and others from different parts of
However, a total of 17 people died owing to mishaps during mining operations in 2022 while four have already lost their lives in 2023.
All of the deaths recorded so far are coming from shafts being operated by unregistered and unlicensed miners.
This resulted in the Environmental Management Agency issuing an order to stop operations on January 8, but Better Brands was still in the process of appealing against the order until Saturday.
Better Brands Mining Company is operating Redwing Mine which used to be wholly run by Metallon Gold.
In an interview, Better Brands Mining Company general manager Cuthbert Chitima confirmed that they have reached a point where they can no longer carry on with operations before setting our sound safety protocols and structures in all mining shafts around the area.
“We were served with an order to stop operating by the Environment Management Agency owing to the increasing number of deaths and general environmental degradation in the area.
We thought the arguments raised by EMA could be sorted out while mining operations continue but unfortunately while we were lodging an appeal against the EMA order another accident was recorded.
“Therefore, being humane, we felt we really need to close operations and see to it that we put in place safe structures and systems in our mining operations,” Chitima said.
Member of the House of Assembly for Mutasa South constituency Cde Misheck Mugadza, who intermediated in the negotiations to convince sponsors to heed the call to temporarily stop operations, reminded attendees at the meeting that the closure of operations is for the good of all stakeholders.
“It should be noted that the closure of operations is for everyone’s good. No one really celebrates death. We just want to ensure that there is sanity and safety in your operations.
The duration of the closure is what we need to agree on and ensure we are moving on the same
page,” said Mugadza.