via Health scare hits Kadoma 1 September 2014
A HUMAN rights lobby group has revealed that most children born of women based in Kadoma were at high risk of suffering neuro-development challenges and genital deformities after most women in the mining town were found to have extremely higher concentration of mercury intoxication in their milk.
Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) said the research conducted in the gold rich Kadoma area had shown that a majority of illegal artisanal miners were using mercury in purifying their gold which in turn found its way into water sources.
Mercury in women’s bodies affects breast milk and subsequently breastfeeding babies would then develop neuro-development challenges.
CNRG researcher Norman Mukwakwami said a recent study had shown that milk in women who were tested for mercury intoxication in Kadoma had mercury levels that were up to 25 times higher than acceptable limits prescribed by the World Health Organisation.
“Children who are exposed to mercury will suffer from neuro-development challenges and genital deformities,” Mukwakwami said.
CNRG urged government tourgenly legalise artisanal mining to curb illegal use of mercury by panners.
“What is needed is full formalisation where artisanal miners receive mining claims, technical and financial support from the government while in turn it will get royalties, tax and gold,” Mukwakwami said.
The recommendations came as the World Bank estimates there were up to 500 000 artisanal miners in Zimbabwe.
“Of the half a million people engaged in artisanal mining, 44% are women,” Mukwakwami said.
Statistically this translates to one in 26 persons in Zimbabwe being involved in artisanal mining.
CNRG says the number of artisanal miners has grown exponentially in the past three decades, from less than 50 000 at independence in 1980 to the current 500 000 due to increasing unemployment, several droughts and the rising price of minerals on the international market.