BY NHAU MANGIRAZI
ARTISINAL miners have been urged to stop using mercury in their operations as it was affecting the environment and posing a serious health hazard to the public.
This was said by Environmental Management Agency (Ema) Mashonaland West provincial spokesperson Munyaradzi Nhariswa last Friday during a safety and health awareness campaign for small-scale miners in Karoi. The event was organised by the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) and Ema.
The meeting was also attended by officials from the Mines ministry and the National Social Security Authority (Nssa).
In artisanal mining, mercury is used to recover minute pieces of gold that are mixed with soil and sediments.
‘‘Zimbabwe ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury in 2013 to reduce use of harmful chemicals, including mercury and cyanide, among others. We must move towards reducing mercury use in gold mining as it has long-term effects on communities, artisanal miners and livestock. We must protect our environment through observing safety and health issues,’’ Nhariswa said.
“Mines must also rehabilitate the environment as one of the key aspects of best environmental practices. Let us reduce mercury use to save the environment for future generations,” he said.
Nssa official Melusi Moyo urged miners to register their operations so that they can be protected from mining accidents and health threats.
Mines ministry chief engineer Michael Munodawafa urged artisanal miners to postpone their operations during the rainy season as mine collapses mainly occur during this period.
ZMF provincial secretary for women affairs Pamela Muringayi said delays in the issuance of mining certificates were hindering female miners from operating effectively.
Munodawafa said the Mines ministry was understaffed, resulting in a backlog in the issuing out of certificates backdating to 2017.
‘‘We had only 19 members of staff in that department that is required to cover the whole country. We recruited 60 more staff members to deal with certification and insurance cover for mines throughout the country,” Munodawafa added.
Hurungwe Kariba Miners Association chairperson Walter Kawara said the district had worldclass gemstones, adding that the area had the potential to contribute significantly to the country’s gross domestic product.