THE 30 illegal miners trapped in a collapsed shaft at Ran Mine in Bindura were still underground yesterday as efforts to dewater the shaft were in progress.
By SIMBARASHE SITHOLE
This came amid reports that a volunteer slipped into the shaft on Saturday night and died while trying to assist the trapped miners.
Acting Mashonaland Central police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Fidelis Zhewu confirmed the incident, saying: “The deceased’s relatives have been informed and the body was retrieved from the mine”.
Chairperson of the Department of Civil Protection in Bindura Richard Chipfuva said the main challenge that they were facing in retrieving the miners was that of machinery.
“When we started the process, we had one pump which developed faults, hence, we were not making any progress. We are not sure how deep the surface is, but so far we have gone down about 15 metres from the initial surface which is encouraging. We are now using two drawing points,” Chipfuva said.
Five miners were lucky to escape alive when the mine collapsed last Wednesday. But only three were seen by the police as the other two disappeared.
Zhewu referred questions to national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi who could not be reached for comment.
Last Thursday, Mines minister Winston Chitando visited the mine and urged illegal miners to regularise their operations and engage in safe mining practices.
The collapse comes at a time non-governmental organisation, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) in its latest report on the state of closed large and small-scale mines said during mine visits they noticed that illegal artisanal mining operations were taking place as most mines were closed due to the poor economic and political environment obtaining in the country.
“In turn, artisanal miners or small-scale miners are now operating at some mines under tribute agreements entered with the mine owners. The machinery and infrastructure at many of the closed mine sites is highly-depreciated to be used again. Retrenched workers from these mines are now working as artisanal miners in these areas, using rudimentary mining tools and methods,” the Zela report said.