By Staff Reporter
AT least 15 gold miners are feared dead at Redwing Mine in Penhalonga, Manicaland province, after a shaft collapsed Thursday trapping some workmen, who were operating underground.
Mines and Mining Development Minister, Soda Zhemu confirmed the incident in a statement.
“The accident happened between 5 am-6 am today, Thursday 4 January 2024. Eleven people are suspected to be trapped underground about 20 metres below the surface.
“Cause of the collapse of the mine shaft is suspected to be an earth tremor whose source is yet to be ascertained,” he said.
The miners are suspected to have entered the mine through different shafts and were at least 20 metres from the surface when tragedy struck.
The Metallon Gold rescue team at Redwing Mine together with inspectors from the provincial office went underground around 9 am attempting to rescue and had to retreat after noticing the ground still carving in.
“The team tried again around 1200hrs and noticed that the ground had collapsed more. Metallon as a company has indicated that it has sufficient capacity to carry out the rescue mission.
“More cracks developed on the surface and subsidence was noticed on the surface around the mine. The ground is still carving in. It appears like the miners had mined out support pillars,” said Zhemu.
The minister said he established that Metallon Gold Redwing has been tributing mining areas at Redwing even to individuals. The shaft that collapsed was under the ownership of some individuals and the trapped victims were workers at the tribute.
“Management of tributed areas falls under the principal owner, Metallon Gold in this case. Therefore, the rescue team from Metallon has been leading the rescue effort supported by the Ministry of Mines and other stakeholders including (the Zimbabwe Republic Police) ZRP and the Civil Protection Unit.
“Of concern is the fact that the ground at this place is visibly cracking and subsiding and, therefore, is unsafe.”
The search and rescue operation continues today with optimism to get survivors.
Centre for Research and Development director, James Mupfumi, told the media that hundreds of residents from Penhalonga had converged at the site to assist in the rescue operations.
Redwing is not new to such disasters, in March 2023, two miners were trapped to death amid rumours of secret illegal mining when the mine shut down.
The mine was closed in January 2023 by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) over recurrent mine collapses that were claiming the lives of artisanal miners.
In that month, a total of 26 people were reported dead from collapsed shafts at Redwing.