MINING operations at RioZim’s Renco Mine have ground to a halt as parties fighting for control of the gold mine continue haggling, a senior official has confirmed.
REPORT BY TATENDA CHITAGU
Renco Mine manager Cyprian Kachisa told NewsDay yesterday they had ceased all operations and ordered the 2 000 workers to go back home until the ownership wrangle has been resolved.
“We have been forced to shut down. We have run out of almost everything — from consumables, fuel, chemicals, coal, oxygen, cyanide and many others. It is a long list of resources that we ran out of and we are literally grounded,” he said.
“Only care maintenance is going on. The crashing plant has stopped and workers will on Friday (today) stop coming to work because we will not need productive labour when we are not operating.”
He also said that the mine owed power utility, Zesa, over $1 million in unpaid bills, adding they required about $2 million working capital per month.
“If we are cut off, then the mine will be finished because the tunnels will flood and it will be very expensive to drain the water. It will also mean that there will not be any drinking water for the 5 000 people resident in the mine as there will be no pumping taking place,” he said.
The mine has been at the centre of a storm since last month after management accused two Zanu PF MPs, Walter Mzembi (Masvingo South) and Irvine Dzingirai (Chivi South), of disrupting operations and attempting to grab the mine.
But the pair has since denied the charge, arguing they only intervened to restore order following demonstrations by miners’ spouses. The matter has already been taken to court with Mzembi threatening to sue the company for defaming him.
Kachisa said the disturbances started on January 14 when workers’ spouses blocked the entrance demanding payment of their husbands’ bonuses and other benefits. Villagers from the surrounding community later joined in accusing the management of refusing to implement some community projects they had allegedly pledged to carry out.
In an urgent chamber application filed at the High Court last week, RioZim accused Dzingirai and Mzembi’s executive assistant Obadiah Madzombwe of attempting to grab the mine.
High Court judge Justice Hlekani Mwayera on Wednesday reserved judgment in the matter.