CHINESE nationals conducting illegal gold mining activities along Mazowe and other rivers across the country have been ordered to stop with immediate effect to preserve the natural state of rivers for future generations.
Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidhakwa told Parliament that foreigners should not be treated in any way better than the locals who have been flushed out of these areas.
“They (Chinese) have been told to leave. We have removed our locals whom we called illegal panners and no one should be treated as superior to our own people,” Chidhakwa said.
He was answering to a question by Chief Chitsunga in the Senate last week on whether the unlicenced Chinese nationals were being treated as special investors who were mining along Mazowe River banks and other rivers across the country without the need for an environmental assessment impact.
Concerns have been raised that the illegal gold mining activities were destroying the country’s water bodies, while the chemicals used, particularly in the mining of gold, posed grave danger to livestock.
“All the people mining along Mazowe River have been evicted. It loosens the soil and results in siltation of rivers,” Chidhakwa said.
“Generations must enjoy the rivers. It is our responsibility to protect them. We learnt with utter dismay last week about the abuse in Mazowe River and other rivers across the country. The position of Cabinet is clear on what needs to be done. They (the Chinese) have been told to leave operations along the river.”
Chidhakwa urged people to report to the ministry once they spotted anyone mining less than 30 metres from a river as prohibited by the Environmental Management Agency.
Environment, Water and Climate deputy minister Simon Musanhu said it was surprising that the people mining along the river were heavily mechanised, with some having licences from the Ministry of Mines.
He said the ministry would work tirelessly to ensure that miners respect environmental regulations as mining along rivers polluted the water and posed risk to livestock, adding that mining companies should compensate for all cattle that die due to poisoning from their mining activities.
Recently, there was an outcry by villagers in Marange who claimed their cattle were dying due to poisoning by chemicals used in the mining of diamonds.
“We are making an effort to inspect all rivers,” Musanhu said.