The Ministry of Mines has said it is working on measures to formalise small-scale mining activities in the country, as the sector accounts for a majority of workplace accidents and deaths.
Wilson Maenzanise from the Ministry said 107 fatalities were recorded between January and now from close to 30 accidents.
He said there has been a sharp increase in mine fatalities in the last five years.
Maenzanise was addressing health and safety officers at a Safety and Health at Work (SHAW) conference organised by the National Social Security Authority in Victoria.
He said in 84 accidents occurred in 2020 where 93 people died.
Sixty-eight people died from 51 fatal accidents in 2021 while 107 fatalities occurred from 27 accidents this year.
The deaths were a result of fall of ground, inhaling gas, shaft accidents as well as using improper equipment and methods of mining, Maenzanise said.
“Over 75 percent of the accidents recorded are from illegal miners who are not registered and these illegal miners are usually nomads in nature as they move from one place to another at a very alarming rate,” Maenzanise said
“Causes include lack of competence levels, improper mine methods, lack of defined mining methods, use of improper equipment, operating machinery or equipment under the influence of alcohol, as well as falling of ground.”
Some of the accidents were caused by disregard for regulations and the use of improper equipment, while some illegal miners lack competence and have no formal training for safe mining methods.
Chaos that has characterised the informal mining sector in the past where violence has been topical, points to the need to escalate awareness raising and education.
Maenzanise said the Ministry of Mines is doing Safety Health and Environmental campaigns countrywide, working with various stakeholders such as Environmental Management Agency, police, Mine Rescue teams, Civil Protection Unit, explosives manufacturing companies and small-scale miners associations and federations.