Eureka Gold Mine admits to cyanide discharge into major river

Guruve residents threaten legal action

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Stanley Gutu

Masvingo—Residents of Guruve in Mashonaland Central province have accused Eureka Gold Mine of polluting Dande River, which is their main source of potable water, a report by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) indicates.

The mine dates back to 1906 and has changed hands several times over the decades.

Operating as an open pit model, it was re-commissioned in 2021 after 20 years of inactivity and its output has jumped from 420kgs then to 1660kgs by February this year.

Eureka Gold Mine (The Herald)

Eureka is owned by Dallaglio, which operates several other gold mining concerns in Zimbabwe.

The mine, which is situated some 150km northwest of Harare and about 4km from Guruve Township, uses cyanide to process gold ore.

The community is worried that Eureka is discharging hazardous effluent containing cyanide into the river and are pressing for redress from the miner and other relevant agencies.

The Guruve Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) in early May wrote to the gold miner, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), protesting the discharge of toxic pollutants into Dande River.

In the letter, the GRRA chairperson, Letios Karembera, through Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Kelvin Kabaya of ZLHR, protested the cyanide spill which allegedly occurred on 22 April when mine ponds overflowed into the river.

The ZLHR reported that the first spillage occurred last February.

The human rights lawyers’ association revealed that Eureka Gold Mine—through James Beare, the chief executive officer at Dallaglio, the holding company—admitted to the spillage into Dande River from its effluent ponds.

Beare, however, described the contamination as “minimal”, saying the company had swiftly applied neutralising chemicals to the effluent to weaken the cyanide.

Because of the latest cyanide discharge, potable water supply to domestic and commercial points was suspended.

To alleviate resultant water shortages, Eureka sent emergency supplies, but only managed 45, 000 litres per day against an average requirement of 200, 000 litres.

Through ZLHR, the residents argued that their right to safe, clean and potable water as provided for in section 77 of the Constitution had been seriously violated.

The section provides: “Every person has the right to a) safe, clean and potable water, and b) sufficient food and the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right”.

The residents demanded that ZINWA must quickly provide adequate potable and treated water to the whole of the Guruve business centre and consumers.

It called for water bowsers to be availed to schools while Eureka must immediately decontaminate Dander River and its basin.

They urged the mining company, ZINWA and EMA to adequately inform residents and villagers in all affected areas up to Mushumbi Pools of the cyanide contamination, and to take measures to prevent further spillages.

The association threatened legal action against Eureka, ZINWA and EMA if their demands were not adequately addressed.

Meanwhile, the mining company has said it was working with EMA in implementing a comprehensive plan to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Eureka Gold Mine has promised to sink boreholes in Guruve as a way of diversifying water sources for domestic and commercial consumption.

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