16 October 2011

Zimbabwe: Governor Slams Illegal Gold Panners

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Gold-panning requires concentration: flecks of gold are often smaller than a grain of rice.

AN influx of illegal gold panners in Bindura is threatening the town's infrastructure, Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister, Cde Martin Dinha, has said.

Governor Dinha said this in a speech read on his behalf by provincial administrator, Mr Robert Rwafa, during a media tour of the province by the Environmental Management Agency last week.

"The Bindura town is under serious threat with illegal gold panners who are engaging in mining activities just a few metres away from the town centre," said Governor Dinha.

He said the illegal mining activities were dangerous since they were a threat to both the environment and human lives.

"A considerable quantity of gold deposits is found in this province, but unfortunately its extraction takes place through unsustainable methods that leave our environment in bad shape," said Governor Dinha.

"Most sites of gold panning completely destroy the aesthetic value of land as they are characterised by huge open pits.

"These open pits have become hazards to the lives of both animals and humans."

Governor Dinha said dumping of waste at undesignated areas was also a major problem, which needed attention of both the council and the community.

"The other environmental problem very common in our province's urban centres and growth points is that of illegal dumping of solid waste on undesignated places," he said.

"This has created very unpleasant sites in our towns, characterised by huge heaps of garbage, some of which are found even in residential areas."

Police in Bindura said they were working with EMA to fight the problem of gold panners.

The Officer Commanding Operations for Bindura District, Superintendent Kudakwashe Nhawi, said the police were not taking the issue lightly and were arresting the illegal gold panners.

"We are dealing with these people tirelessly and we are doing raids and arresting them," he said.

"We urge miners to abide by the law and have enough documents for mining. That way we won't have problems and together we can protect our country."

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