Government has expressed grave concern on the threat of destruction of the country’s critical communications infrastructure and disruption of other economic activities due to the indiscriminate illegal artisanal mining across the country.
This follows the presentation of a report on the matter by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, which was adopted at by yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
Addressing the media after a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa noted with concern the negative effects caused by illegal artisanal mining along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railway (Pvt) Ltd, citing the digging of pits within three metre from the line.
“This has the potential of weakening the railway infrastructure, leading to potential derailment and damage to the track. Cabinet approved the deployment of special security operations to deter artisanal mining activities along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Railway line,” said the Minister.
Minister Mutsvagwa added that Cabinet further directed law enforcement to be intensified in all areas to tighten security measures that will put an end to the costly damage of strategic communications infrastructure caused by illegal artisanal mining.
“Stiffer penalties will also be metted out on artisanal miners who engage in destructive illegal activities,” she said.
Illegal gold mining has impacted negatively, in most parts of the country where it is practiced, on environmental and health issues such as pollution of water bodies, degradation of forest resources, depletion of soil nutrients, destruction of wildlife habitant, and reduction in quality and threats to human health.
In most cases panners leave behind big yawning craters filled with stagnant mercury polluted waters, mounds of sand and fallen trees. The illegal mining areas are synonymous with dust coated shrubs, residual mining pits, defaced roads and silted rivers and dams. Communities and livestock are exposed to contaminated drinking water and the mining activities also affect pastures.