Harare–GOLD miner Metallon Corporation has resolved to end unsafe mining practices, including all small-scale mining at Redwing Mine following a shaft collapse last week, which resulted in 15 miners being trapped underground.
The miners, however, managed to escape death ahead of their rescue, three days after the incident.
The company, which owns Redwing Mine, How Mine and Mazowe Mine, said it will re-establish formal mining operations at Redwing.
“Redwing Mine has historically operated as a formalised, large-scale mine. When the mine was placed under corporate rescue in 2020 and under the management of an administrator, artisanal mining was introduced on a wide scale,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.
“As part of these processes, Metallon is ending unsafe mining practices, including all small-scale mining and returning these operations to the formalised mining that Metallon has always conducted.”
During the corporate rescue period, Redwing Mine entered into a contract with Prime Royal Mining (PRM) in which it engaged over 1 000 artisanal and small-scale miners to extract gold within the Redwing Mine concession.
Under the agreement, Redwing Mine and Prime Royal Mining were to get 30% each, while artisanal miners get 40%. PRM then set up a milling plant at Redwing Mine and artisanal miners took ore from their pits dotted around the mine area to the mill.
During the same period, Betterbrands Mining Company, owned by Pedzisai Sakupwanya, a prominent gold buyer with strong political ties, also took over 132 mining claims in the area.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, National Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union have demanded a thorough investigation into the incident.
The organisations said preliminary investigations show that this was not a properly-registered mine. They said it was operating without a mine manager as stipulated in Statutory Instrument 109 of 1990 Mining (Management and Safety) Regulations.
“All safety procedures were not being followed. Underground pillars had been knocked down, thereby rendering the mine a death trap. The removal of pillars must have been observed by the inspectors from the Mines and Mining Development ministry if they were doing their work properly,” the organisations said in a joint statement.
“We note with deep concern the prevalence of hundreds of so-called sponsors operating underground shafts at Redwing. These sponsors know nothing about mining. They use their financial muscle and political connections to bet on other people’s lives.”
The organisations demanded an impartial investigation into the Redwing Mine disaster.
They also demanded a clear roadmap on the future of Redwing Mine and its gold-rich surroundings with a special focus on workers’ safety, wellbeing and livelihoods, environment and governance of mining operations in the area.