Illegal miners damaging land: EMA

THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has warned registered miners against hiring out their machinery to illegal miners.

The agency said miners who hired out their machinery to such illegal miners will be made to pay the costs to rehabilitate the damaged land.

Last month, Government banned all riverbed alluvial and riverbed mining on rivers except on the Save and Angwa rivers where de-siltation will be allowed under strict conditions.

Illegal gold panners have however, continued with their activities in several parts of Matabeleland South province and Ema has warned that it is moving in to enforce the ban.

More than 500 miners were conducting riverbed mining which uses mercury to process the precious metal at the confluence of Insiza and Umzingwane rivers.

The agency is now engaged in an exercise to rehabilitate the damaged land.

Matabeleland South Provincial Environmental manager Mr Decent Ndlovu said the illegal miners were operating with assistance of regular miners who were supplying them with machinery in exchange for a stake.

He said those assisting or hiring out machinery to illegal miners will be made to meet the costs of rehabilitating the damaged land.

“We recently conducted a raid at the confluence of Insiza and Umzingwane rivers where illegal mining activities were taking place. The illegal miners fled before we could get to them but we were able to confiscate the machinery that they were using which comprised compressors, generators among others. In a bid to justify themselves the owners of this machinery said they were not aware that their property was being used for illegal mining activities.

“Now the individuals that supplied this machinery are accomplices and they will bear the costs of rehabilitating the land. The rehabilitation is ongoing and the contractor is on the ground and once the work is done we will hand over the bill to the owners of the machinery. These people are miners that are operating in different places. We have cases of miners that are supporting activities of illegal miners in exchange for a stake in these illegal mines,” he said.

Mr Ndlovu said they were set to raid similar illegal mining areas in different parts of the province and those arrested risked paying fines ranging from $36 000 to $120 000.

In a statement, the organisation’s Environmental Education and Publicity manager, Ms Amkela Sidanke said they were enforcing the ban on illegal mining activities by making the illegal miners bear the costs of rehabilitating land.

“By supplying heavy machinery these people are conniving in the act as it’s the heavy machinery that damages the environment so they will also pay the costs of rehabilitating the land,” she said.

Ms Sidanke said illegal mining activities are widespread across the country.

The Chronicle

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