Mining firms urged to prioritise safety issues

By Providence Maraneli

MINING companies have been urged to prioritise safety issues in order to build a solid foundation for increased production.

On one late shift at Bux Mine in Gwanda’s Collenbawn area in May this year, a group of 7 miners plunged almost 230 metres into the belly of the earth down a mine shaft after hoist ropes snapped.

The incident laid bare the importance of safety issues after the rescue team spent a gruelling 72 hours in the shaft putting together ligaments and human flesh that had been dismembered by the free fall.

The putrid and haunting smell of death clung to their clothes and skin and yet everyone looked up to them to deliver.

“It was a terrible exercise , we were looking at death as we were trying to retrieve the bodies of the seven , we endured the smell and blood in the dark and it was really painful but well it is our duty,” said a member of the rescue team.

The Bux mine incident and other mining accidents that have occurred in the country have been a wake up call to Vumbachikwe mine in Gwanda to assemble a rescue team that will be on stand-by for any mishap.

“We have learnt from the Bux mine accident that safety issues are important and also that a rescue team that is trained is equally critical because you wouldn’t spend hours trying to look for rescue teams from a diffident province. Time is critical during accidents, the more you delay the more the chances of people dying, said Ani Kananji-Vumbachikwe Mine Manager.

In its quest to address health and safety issues at work places, the Mining Rescue Association of Zimbabwe has urged mining firms to prioritise safety ahead of profits.

“Mining is a risky business and it needs to be treated as such and mines should prioritise safety before profit. As we commission the Vumbachikwe rescue team, it will bring to the fore the good work that ought to be done to protect the workforce. It also lessens the burden of having to hiring a team maybe 100km away and this will reduce fatalities. So all mine firms should follow this example,” he explained.

The mine rescue team comprises 13 trained members.

The National Development Strategy One includes a thematic area on decent work as part of efforts to address health and safety issues at workplaces.