The Sunday Mail
Itai Mazire recently in Chegutu
A local mining management firm, Kite Mining, has taken the lead in formalising the operations of unregistered small-scale gold miners by managing production and ensuring the mineral is delivered to Fidelity Printers and Refiners. The company has since the beginning of this year recruited over 200 former illegal panners to run formally-structured operations at Headley Mine in the town.
So far, the pilot project has served its purpose: providing an income to the 200 while also selling gold through legal means, thereby minimising leakages.
Kite Mining operations manager Mr Aaron Mubaiwa said more than 2 000 illegal panners descended on the mine earlier in the year.
The firm immediately approached the claim owner with a proposal to restore order by organising the panners.
“We then moved in and told the informal artisanal miners that our objective was not to chase them away from the mine, but to employ them formally,” said Mr Mubaiwa.
“At first, we faced resistance, but now we have employed over 200 of them.”
Kite Mining provided the requisite mining equipment and hired experienced miners to monitor operations.
The mine employees work from 6am to 6pm.
Five are assigned to each of the 40 shafts at the mine while remuneration is based on the amount of gold they dig out.
“We erected a security fence around the mining claim and also hired experienced miners to guide them as they dig in underground shafts,” said Mr Mubaiwa.
“In addition, we have constructed sanitary facilities as well as a kitchen. A code of conduct was also developed to guide conduct at the mine.
“Kite Mining’s drive is to formalise illegal small-scale mining operations. Since this is a pilot project, we hope to spread our wings to other parts of the country.”
One of the former illegal panners, Mr Trust “Ninja” Zivurawa, said the initiative was helping transform lives.
“We are now formally employed and earning more than what we used to when we were mining illegally,” he said.
“Those who resisted working with us when Kite Mining came here are now visiting the mine regularly, seeking employment.”
Affirmative Action Group Mashonaland West vice-president Mr Mike Chimombe said they would soon engage Kite Mining to formalise all small-scale mining operations in the gold-rich province.
“Mashonaland West is rich in gold. We, therefore, need to engage Kite Mining for the company to move to other mining claims before year-end.
“We want the term ‘illegal miners’ to cease to exist in our province.”