Metallon shortchanged us: Artisanal miners

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

PAN-African natural resources company, Metallon Corporation has been accused by artisanal miners of shortchanging them through its subsidiary King’s Daughter Mining Company Limited, which owns and operates Redwing Mine.

Redwing Mine is located in the Penhalonga and Tsvingwe wards in Mutasa district, Manicaland province, about 20 kilometres northeast of Mutare and 265 kilometres southeast of Harare.

In a report titled Penhalonga and Tsvingwe Community Opposition to Destructive Mining Impacts by the two communities in those wards, they stated that artisanal miners were subjected to human rights abuses.

The report was made in 2018, but was only released recently.

“We used to be illegal miners and we would be chased away by law enforcement agents because it was illegal. But after that, Redwing Mine, together with Primeraw, came together and employed us to work for them legally under Redwing Mine,” a miner from Penhalonga, who did not name himself, said in an interview with Transparency International Zimbabwe in its new documentary titled Towards Accountable Mining in Zimbabwe.

“So, now that we work under Redwing Mine, we take our ore to the mine, but they do not pay us as much as we used to earn when we were mining illegally at the river. The upside to working for the mine is that we are no longer being chased by law enforcement agents, but the downside is that the mine only wants what we mine. But the company does not give us anything to make the mining process safer, like food or protective clothing.

“This is strenuous because we do all the hard work, and they benefit more than we do. They take 70% and we get only 30% of the proceeds. But we received identification cards which protect us from law enforcement agents.”

The report says local artisanal miners caught panning in the so-called “premises” of Redwing Mine were often severely beaten by mine security, resulting in more than 15 documented deaths since 2005 to the time the report was released.

Others were thrown down disused shafts and gullies, only for their corpses to be discovered later by their colleagues, according to the report.

“Since time immemorial, our community has survived through artisanal mining, iron smelting and agriculture (growing crops and raising livestock). Mining has impacted negatively on our environment and livelihoods. We have been effectively dispossessed of both our farming land and access to our minerals,” the communities said in the report.

“We have been made into criminals on our own land. When we engage in mining we get arrested and charged for being ‘illegal miners’. We have even lost members of our community for alleged trespassing or for ‘illegal mining’. Our community is in distress. We are now a community of jobless poor people.”

King’s Daughter Mine is the largest mining company in Penhalonga, with both underground operations and surface sand/slime retreatment operations.
The company uses cyanide in gold processing.

Another miner, DTZ-Ozgeo — a joint venture between the Development Trust of Zimbabwe and Russia’s Econedra — was forced by the Environmental Management Agency to stop its operations in 2013 due to an outcry from locals regarding the environmental catastrophe it was causing along Mutare River.

Redwing Mine production in 2016 was 10 106 ounces (286,5 kilogrammes) with the mine believed to have 2,5 million ounces of gold (nearly 71 tonnes) with a life expectancy of 20 years.

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