FOUR illegal gold miners from Mudzi have been fined $300 each for illegal mining, as they got away with a wholly suspended six-month jail term for possession of the highly-poisonous cyanide.
By Jairos Saunyama
Brian Kufakwemba, Denias Bondamakara, Simbai Kufakwemba and Thomas Nechombo were last week sentenced by a Mutoko magistrate, who also found them guilty of operating without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate.
The court heard that the four mounted cyanide tanks in an unprotected area in Makaha Village, exposing villagers and livestock to hazardous substances.
Environmental Management Agency Mashonaland East provincial spokesperson, Astas Mabwe, hailed the court’s decision, saying the heavy penalties would act as a deterrent.
“We are happy with the outcome of all the four dockets that were reported. As an agency, we are happy with the time taken by the courts,” he said.
“All the dockets that were opened at Makosa Police Station in Mutoko were finalised. This will send a message to would-be offenders, as well as put a stop to the erection of cynadation tanks without an EIA certificate from the agency. Moreover, this protects local people from illegal exposure to hazardous substances.”
Gold cyanidation, also known as the cyanide process or the MacArthur-Dingus process, is a metallurgical technique for extracting gold from low-grade ore by converting the gold to a water-soluble co-ordination complex.
Due to the highly poisonous nature of cyanide, the process is controversial and its usage is banned in a number of countries as it leaves the environment heavily-contaminated.