By Robert Tapfumaneyi
AT LEAST nine illegal gold panners have died while several more are believed to be still trapped underground at a Jumbo Mine in Mazowe, Mashonaland Central province.
According to government, the tragic incident happened Sunday evening when a dynamite exploded in the area they were mining at the Metallon Gold Corporation owned mine.
In a statement Monday, the company said none of its employees died in the explosion.
Metallon said it regretted the deaths of 9 illegal gold miners.
“Illegal gold miners invaded the mine and took part in unlawfully explosive blasting, tragically nine miners lost their lives.
“None of all these miners were employees of Metallon and all those involved with keeping the mine on care and maintenance have been accounted for,” Klara Kaczmarek said.
The company stopped operations last year, something that has seen illegal gold panners invade the place in search of the precious mineral.
“Government received tragic news of a mining incident at Jumbo Mine in Mazoe,” the country’s Information Ministry said through its twitter page Monday.
“Information at hand indicates that some people engaged in unauthorised mining exploded dynamite in one shaft causing a collapse in an adjacent shaft.
“8 bodies have been recovered so far, investigations are underway.”
Police officer commanding Bindura district, Chief Superintendent David Tizwe said investigations of the exact cause of the explosion are still going on.
“I can confirm that there is an incident where 8 illegal gold miners have died. We are yet to investigate,” he told NewZimbabwe.com Monday.
Jumbo Mine halted operations last year owing to operational challenges which left many of its former employees jobless with some reportedly having resorted to illegal mining.
Information says the mine has a total of 247 claims over 2 939 hectares of land holding.
The Jumbo Mine disaster comes months after 23 illegal Kadoma miners died after they were trapped inside two mine shafts by floods.