By Simbarashe Sithole
ABOUT 40 illegal miners were yesterday trapped at Ran Mine in Bindura after a disused mine shaft collapsed. Six miners were retrieved and rushed to Bindura Hospital for treatment, according to Zimbabwe Miners Federation chief executive Wellington Takavarasha.
Acting Mashonaland Central police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Fedelis Dhewu was not reachable for comment, but Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana confirmed the development.
“A tragedy has occurred at Ran Mine in Bindura town late this afternoon. A deep disused mine trench has curved in, trapping several illegal gold miners. Exact number not yet established. So far six miners have been rescued. Details to follow, but numbers could be circa 30,” Mangwana tweeted.
Freda Rebecca Mine sent a rescue team and equipment, including earthmovers, to lead the rescue efforts, Takavarasha said.
“What I am told is there were 40 illegal miners
who went underground and got trapped,” Takavarasha said, adding that the disaster was caused by negligence.
“This (Ran Mine) is a disused mine and you know what the panners do, they hit the pillars, they don’t follow the tunnel, and they meander. Hitting the pillar weakens the mine and during times like this when it will be raining, the mine collapses. Because the pillars are collapsed, it makes even the rescue operations very risky.”
He said the Mines ministry should ensure an end to illegal mining to save lives.
“Most of them will not be wearing protective clothing. Even the six retrieved yesterday, they did not have helmets or safety shoes,” Takavarasha said.
Cases of panners being trapped in disused mines panning for gold have been on the rise.
Government this week gave up trying to retrieve six bodies of miners trapped in a mineshaft at Matshetshe Mine in Esigodini since November 10.
Early this month, two bodies out of five artisanal miners who were trapped underground at Task Mine Syndicate, Chegutu, were retrieved 51 days after the collapse of a shaft.
In February last year, 24 artisanal miners died in a disused Cricket Mine at Battlefields near Kwekwe when a dam wall collapsed and the shafts were flooded.
Almost every week, a gold panner dies somewhere in the country.