By Leopold Munhende
DURATION Gold, proprietors of infamous Gaika Mine in Kwekwe have gone into a win-win partnership with artisanal miners at part of their Athens Mine in Mvuma in a bid to permanently end bloody battles over the precious metal involving MaShurugwi in the mining town.
The arrangement, introduced by Athens Mine manager, Mawulani Phiri early this year has seen 27 Syndicates (teams) of between four and five each being given space on the mine to operate.
The mine has provided some of its equipment and armed security in case of any threats.
Duration Gold Exploration and Mining Executive Allan Mashingaidze told journalists who visited the site the arrangement has reduced incidents of violent clashes between artisanal miners.
“Currently, we have a small mining operation where we have empowered syndicates from a local community, we have at the moment 28 syndicates of four or five members who we have given access to our mining claims so that they can mine and we have a sharing arrangement from the proceeds of that production.
“It has enabled them to conduct mining activity from a legal standpoint unlike the illegal mining we see in other parts of Zimbabwe,” said Mashingaidze.
“Because the arrangement is at a formal level and because we have opened ourselves to partnering them, it has reduced incidents of illegal mining and violence because most of those who were previously engaged in that have offered themselves as syndicates.
“This time last year, we would not have been standing here, it was very wild, it was very violent and there was actually competition between various groups of illegal miners fighting to control the areas being mined today.”
Journalists had taken time to visit the site, some 100 metres to the east of the Harare-Masvingo highway where innumerable lives were lost in running battles between state security agencies battling to clear the area, artisanal miners and machete wielding MaShurugwi.
MaShurugwi made international headlines early last year and early this year after going on a violence spree in mining communities, robbing people of their ore, gold, money and forcing themselves on claims meant for others.
In Mvuma, the hacking down of gold buyer Marko Dube of MEK Syndicate Mine on New Year’s Day headlined the violence.
Artisanal miners who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said the arrangement was working for them.
“Our arrangement is just right because we agreed we will share whatever comes out and that is exactly what we have been doing.
“This is better, it is also better than sitting because we now consider this going to work,” said Knowledge Wenyevhe who has been in the industry for over 10 years.
“If you get five grammes per tonne, you get 50 percent after deducting milling costs; if you get four grammes per tonne, that is 45 percent because the mine gives you an extra five percent.
Athens was established as Falcon Copper Mine in 1910 before being bought and turned into a gold up till its temporary closure in 1998 in the hands of London and Rhodesian Mining (LonRho).
Added Mashingaidze: “By working in cooperation with these small-scale miners we have restored some sense of order and peace in the area and happiness for their families.
“I think you could say it is a model that can be copied and tried out in areas where there are companies that hold mining properties and have a problem with illegal miners.
“The first step is to win the confidence of the illegal miners and convince them it will be a win-win situation that will reduce incidents of illegal mining and violence.”