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Artisanal miners’ contribution to environmental degradation under spotlight

Story by Grace Sibanda

THE contribution of artisanal miners to environmental degradation came under the spotlight at the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba held in Bulawayo this Tuesday.

The indaba brought together traditional leaders, the church and artisanal miners to discuss sustainable mining practices that do not pose a threat to human life, livestock, aqua life and the environment.

“Artisanal miners have caused a lot of damage in the environment, not only to the land but to water bodies and livestock alike. Once they dig a place they leave pits with no care of the effects of their actions on human life and the environment. More damage will be done if they strict measures are not employed against mitigating their actions,” said traditional leader, Chief Marozva.

Zimbabwe Council of Churches Secretary General, Reverend Wilfred Dimingo said, “We as a church advocate for miners to be stewards of the land. We have education that we carry in mining towns and to miners to practice friendly mining methods and we are working towards ways to involve the government and the mining ministries in our work as a church because we are all touched and affected by the damage that is caused by small scale miners.”

Veterans in the mining industry highlighted the importance of awareness around environmentally friendly mining practices to curb environmental degradation.

“Small scale miners have to be educated on the dangers posed by the pits they leave open, the mercury they leave on water bodies and as a seasoned miner I do hold lessons with small scale miners and have dialogues on how they can safely practice mining,” noted a medium scale miner.

“Mining can be done in the most environmentally friendly ways, ways that also include using clean energy such as solar energy so that while we mine, we also take care of the environment. Small scale miners need to understand that mining is not a get rich quick scheme, hence preservation of the environment is important,” another added.

This comes at a time when some artisanal miners are operating without licenses and knowledge on how to protect the environment.

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