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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Concern over mine deaths

By Richard Shumba

The Mines and Mining Development Ministry has raised serious concerns over the escalating number of accidents and fatalities within the mining sector.

Speaking to this reporter Deputy Chief Government Mining Engineer Tapererwa Paswavaviri highlighted the urgency for collective action to tackle safety lapses within the industry.

He emphasized the gravity of the situation, revealing alarming statistics from 2023, which saw 212 accidents and 237 fatalities recorded in the mining sector alone.

Of particular concern were the disparities in accident rates among different mining operations.

Paswavaviri noted that 14% of accidents occurred in mines registered under the Chamber of Mines, 71% in illegal mines, and 15% in legal mines.

The engineer also highlighted a troubling trend of increasing fatalities, with fatal accidents rising by 28% from 2022 to 2023.

However, he offered a glimmer of hope by stating that fatalities have reduced by 23% in 2024 compared to the previous year.

To address these challenges, Paswavaviri outlined intervention measures undertaken by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

These include increased mine inspections, Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE) awareness campaigns, and the implementation of a Small-Scale Miners Training program aimed at equipping miners with essential safety knowledge and practices.

Meanwhile, Justice Chinhema, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) highlighted the challenges exacerbated by the global decline in mineral prices, emphasizing the disproportionate burden placed on workers within the mining industry.

He underscored a concerning trend where companies reap substantial profits during periods of high mineral prices, yet swiftly resort to laying off workers when prices plummet.

The lack of job security emerged as a pressing issue, with Chinhema highlighting how easily companies can terminate employment contracts in response to fluctuations in mineral prices.

This, he argued, reflects a systemic failure to link job creation with beneficiation and value addition, crucial components for Zimbabwe’s economic advancement.

Advocating for a paradigm shift, Chinhema emphasized the imperative of adding value to Zimbabwe’s mineral resources before exportation.

 He emphasized that the current practice of exporting raw minerals leaves workers vulnerable to economic downturns and susceptible to company layoffs.

ZIDAMWU called upon the Ministry of Mines to enforce regulations mandating investors in the mining sector to engage in value addition processes.

Such measures, Chinhema argued, would not only mitigate the risks faced by workers but also foster economic diversification, reducing dependency on raw mineral exports.

Furthermore, the Union condemned the prevalent culture of unfair and arbitrary contract terminations in the mining industry, highlighting the detrimental impact on workers’ lives and livelihoods.

Chinhema urged for reforms to safeguard workers’ rights and ensure fair treatment within the sector. #TheSun

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