By Takudzwa Changadeya
Residents in Penhalonga, a gold mining village in Manicaland province, are calling for the government’s urgent intervention in governing artisanal mining activities that are allegedly polluting their main sources of drinking water with cyanide and mercury.
Following the detection of mercury and cyanide deposits in Lake Alexander, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) ordered artisanal mining activities in the area to close in January.
The decision to stop artisanal mining activities in the area was made after the death of more than 20 miners in 13 months, however the mining operations have continued despite the order.
Talking to BustopTV, a Penhalonga resident, Nigel Mhokore (40) expressed concern over the impact of the potentially toxic chemical deposits by mining activities which poses a health risk to both humans and livestock in their community.
“Government should intervene urgently because we now fear that the polluted water is affecting our livestock and community members.
“Cyanide and mercury are hazardous to health and they should not be deposited in rivers and lakes, but artisanal miners in our area are doing so because there is no one who is governing their activities.
“Our water is no longer safe, we are in danger,” he said.
He added that Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is supposed to be governing all mining activities in the country and make sure that people are safe from any harmful mining activities.
“EMA should bear the blame, because they are aware of the issue but are deliberately not addressing it,” he added.
EMA’s environmental education and publicity manager, Amkela Sidange, said that they are aware of the environmental impacts caused by the artisanal miners and all those mining companies without Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificates.
“Operating without an EIA certificate is illegal and that’s why communities are complaining about their operations because they don’t comply with our environmental laws,” he said.
“Recently, in Mashonaland East province, we shut down two mines in Goromonzi district for operating without EIA certificates. The companies are TN Gold and Shengxiang Mining Investment and they were both fined for operating illegally,” she said.
Weston Makoni, chairperson of the Penhalonga Residents and Ratepayers’ Association, said it is dangerous for mining chemical deposits to he found in drinking water.
“Penhalonga residents’ health is at risk and our livestock is also in danger. Alexander lake is our main water supply of drinking water, so we need urgent intervention as these miners continue polluting our water source,” he said.