BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
UMZINGWANE legislator Levi Mayihlome has urged youths in the district to venture into gold mining instead of crying foul when outsiders seize opportunities.
The district is rich in gold deposits with more than 6 000 registered mining claims.
Umzingwane is a magnet for artisanal miners from all over the country that swarm the area in search of gold. This has resulted in gold wars.
However, despite the rich gold deposits, there is a lot of poverty in the area with the youths, mostly unemployed.
Mayihlome told Southern Eye that the unemployment level could only be reversed if the youth took up mining opportunities and acquire claims legally.
“What we are saying is that the youths must take up some of these mining opportunities.
“They cannot fold their hands and cry about unemployment or lack of opportunities when they are not doing anything about it.
“As it is, people from outside the district are coming to the area to seize mining opportunities leaving our youth crying foul,” Mayihlome said.
“We are calling on the youth here to do the same to identify and register gold mining claims.
“This business of illegal gold panning is not sustainable as they are quickly evicted for operating illegally.
“It becomes easy for us to push their (youth) cause if they have registered mining claims.
“We cannot be having the youth crying about marginalisation when they are not visible and not being proactive, for example, through identifying and registering mining opportunities here.”
Umzingwane has nothing to show for its vast gold deposits as the only good schools in the area are Falcon College and Mzingwane High School — a government school with a good academic record — as well as Sacred Heart Girls High, a private missionary school. A lot of alluvial gold panning activities take place on the banks of Umzingwane and Mtshabezi rivers.
Research has shown that artisanal gold mining, while providing employment and livelihoods to many, poses ecological challenges as gold panning on riverbanks, beds and the surrounding areas discharge huge amounts of silt and heavy metals into the river system.