Call to curb gold detector use

Source: Call to curb gold detector use | Sunday News (local news)

Simba Jemwa, Sunday News Correspondent

THE Environmental Management Agency has called on Government to revisit legislature governing the use of gold (metal) detectors in prospecting as it intensifies efforts to curb illegal gold mining.

Speaking from his base in Gwanda, Matabeleland South Provincial Environment Manager, Mr. Decent Ndlovu said EMA’s efforts to manage land degradation, siltation, veld fires and deforestation are being stymied by illegal miners who are using the detectors popular known as ‘sensors’ to search for the precious metal.

Mr. Ndlovu said their work has been made all the more difficult by the current legislature that allows the use of the detectors for prospecting purposes which was being abused by illegal miners. He said EMA is lobbying for a change in the laws to allow security personnel to arrest illegal miners found in possession of this equipment.

“We have been working hard to fight land degradation, siltation, veld fires and deforestation which is being caused by illegal miners. Under normal circumstances, these detectors should be used for prospecting purposes at registered mining operations but they are now being used to illegal mine gold,” Mr. Ndlovu said.

“As a result, we are pushing for new laws which will criminalise the use of detectors by unlicensed miners and we hope this will ease environmental damage.”

Mr. Ndlovu said as soon as illegal miners find the mineral, they tend to dig haphazardly to take to it without replenishing the land. He added that a lot of land especially in communal or rural areas was suffering undue and irreversible damage due to the illegal gold mining menace.

He said while the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development saw detectors as a prospecting tool, EMA has realised that it has become a tool for environmental degradation hence the need to regulate its use.

Often, these illegal miners use picks and shovels to dig up a bushy patch of land outside Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, stopping every few seconds to scan the soil for signs of gold. Sadly, for the environment, they leave open gullies all over the place as they ‘prospect’.

Meanwhile, two weeks ago, riot police engaged in a four-day blitz of illegal mining operations in Shangani.

This was revealed by Mr. Ndlovu who said the police had arrested several miners who were reportedly made to pay fines. Mr. Ndlovu said although this was a wholly police operation, EMA had identified for them the problem areas that needed attention.

Asked about the specifics of the operation, Mr. Ndlovu referred further questions to Zimbabwe Republic Police officer commanding Gwanda District, Chief Superintendent Mandlenkosi Moyo whose phone was unreachable at the time of going to print. @RealSimbaJemwa

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