BY Tinashe Mungazi
MATABELELAND North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo has called on mining companies operating in Hwange district to play an active role in developing communities through corporate social investments.
Officiating at the 47th anniversary of the Kamandama Mine disaster commemoration on Thursday, Moyo said communities were supposed to benefit from the companies’ activities through employment and developmental projects.
“I also call upon partners to Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) as well as other mining establishments in the Hwange district to assist the coal mining giant in developing the community around through corporate social investments,” he said. “The people and communities in which you operate should benefit from your activities in terms of local employment, developmental projects and they should also have a stake in the business, for we must all share our God-given natural resources.”
There have been growing calls for other mining players in the district to participate in the development projects such as infrastructure and social amenities.
HCCL is currently the only company that has maintained its social corporate responsibility role by providing accommodation, water, health and infrastructure, among others things, to the surrounding communities.
The district has about 12 companies which are exploiting coal, among them Makomo Resources, Coalbrick, Zambezi Gas, South Mining and Zimbabwe Zinghxon Coking Company.
Moyo said government would continue supporting the operations of the industry by ensuring that mining companies adhered to safety measures to avert a recurrent of the disaster that claimed 427 miners in 1972.
“As government, we will continue to support your operations. The office of the government mining engineer has a major task of ensuring that all the mines in the district adhere to strict safety regulations. One injury is one too much for our country. Therefore, the issue of lack of personal protective equipment in workplaces should be addressed by the employers expeditiously.”
On June 6, 1972, an underground explosion rocked Kamandama Mine, killing 427 workers on duty after a methane gas was ignited. As a result of that disaster, HCCL has annually held commemorations to reflect on the safety standards to curb work-related fatalities and accidents.
Speaking at the same event, acting managing director Charles Zinyemba said the company had put in place administrative and engineering measures such as risk-based thinking integrated business management systems and stone dusting to prevent a recurrence of the 1972 disaster.
“It is our thrust as Hwange Colliery Company to ensure that we maintain a culture of zero harm within the organisation. To prevent a recurrence of the Kamandama disaster, we put across a raft of administrative and engineering measures such as risk-based thinking integrated business management systems and stone dusting,” he said.
“This is where we apply incombustible limestone dust on the roof of our three main underground mines to shield coal dust particles from heat transfer by radiation. We also do quarterly inspections of stone dust barriers, while contrabands have been banned underground.”
Other measures employed by the HCCL include purchase of flame-proof equipment, statutory compliance, adherence to underground cutting and wielding code of safe practice, use of flame retardant belt conveyors, improved ventilation and fire suppression systems.
The commemorations were preceded by a fund-raising golf tournament meant to raise money to support the deceased workers’ surviving widows and their dependents. This year, the tourney managed to raise ZWL$30 000.