BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
ILLEGAL gold miners, who invaded Loreto High School in Silobela last month, have defied police eviction orders and clandestinely continued with their mining activities at the Catholic-run institution, Southern Eye has learnt.
Midlands provincial mining director Tariro Ndlovu said the ministry was still seized with the matter as the artisanal miners occasionally come back to the school to dig for gold.
“We have the issue of Loreto High School, where the whole school has been invaded by artisanal miners,” Ndlovu said on Tuesday during a Midlands alternative mining indaba held in Gweru.
“The small-scale miner challenges are also experienced in areas such as Mberengwa, Zvishavane and Gokwe, where farmers are complaining that their fields have been pegged.”
He added: “Until we reach a point where everyone appreciates the need to observe environmental regulations and mining laws, sustainable mining will be difficult to achieve as a country.”
Southern Eye has gathered that the artisanal miners invaded Loreto before the opening of schools, where they left pits after panning for gold.
Although law enforcement agents occasionally make raids on the gold panners, they (artisanal miners) always come back when police leave the area.
The situation is not only threatening infrastructure at the school but also compromising the safety of students.
Ndlovu said his office received daily calls of disputes between miners themselves as well as miner-farmer and miner and community clashes.
He also bemoaned the haphazard mining activities of some Chinese investors in the province, which he said had contributed to environmental degradation.