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Responsible Mining Initiative to emphasise on workers’ rights, health and safety

Story by Justin Mahlahla

Government will conduct a Responsible Mining Audit countrywide to enhance compliance with matters of workers’ rights, community engagement as well as health and safety in the entire mining sector value chain, including both small-scale and large-scale mines

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said this when he addressed delegates attending the Responsible Mining Initiative at State House in Harare this Thursday.

He said the Audit will establish a framework that promotes responsible mining practices, while guaranteeing the well-being of the communities and environments where mining activities are taking place.

The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development will coordinate the Responsible Mining Audit, with other team members from the ministries of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; Local Government and Public Works; Energy and Power Development; Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, as well as Government departments and agencies such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Environmental Management Agency, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Department of Immigration.

“The centrality of the mining sector in the broader national development, modernisation and industrialisation of our country entails that all stakeholders demonstrate a greater sense of responsibility in their mining activities. My Government, thus, saw it fit that we adopt a common vision for sustainable development through responsible mining practices as we march towards Vision 2030.

“The situation where the sector is characterised by malpractices such as environmental degradation, mineral leakages and haphazard operations conducted outside the legal provisions of our country, can never be condoned. You will recall that I brought up the issue of responsible mining and environmental protection by mining entities during my address at the Chamber of Mines Annual Meeting last year,” noted President Mnangagwa.

The President stated that attention will be accorded to adherence to aspects related to environmental management, immigration, tax, labour relations and provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act, among others, in accordance with the spirit and letter of Zimbabwe’s laws.

“All mining entities, with no exception and regardless of size, should abide by our country’s laws,” he added.

“Together, we must embrace methods that minimise harm and maximise benefits for investors and the generality of the people of Zimbabwe. In line with this, assessments must include potential risks associated with each project, before commencement and also incorporate detailed plans for site reclamation upon closure of the mine. By prioritising environmental matters, we are keen to protect our natural ecosystems and preserve natural resources for both present and future generations,” he said.

President Mnangagwa stressed that the Responsible Mining Initiative will put due emphasis on workers’ rights, community engagement as well as health and safety matters.

“Aspects of addressing the unique priority needs of local communities remain important. Employees who are indeed the anchor of production and productivity within mining activities should be awarded fair wages. As such, Cabinet has approved the Responsible Mining – Initiative to increase oversight over all mining operations. This Initiative represents an essential milestone in our journey towards a sustainable US$12 billion mining industry.”

“Finally, to the Audit Teams, you are directed to conduct the exercise diligently, with uttermost professionalism. Corruption and connivance of any form and kind, will not be tolerated. I call for unity of purpose and maximum cooperation from mining companies with regards availing essential information requested by the Audit teams. Ultimately, this exercise must result in the adoption of an appropriate model for our mining sector, informed,” the President urged.

The programme is an undertaking in Government’s quest to exercise good stewardship over the many natural and mineral resources that Zimbabwe has been blessed with by Almighty God, noted President Mnangagwa.

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