ENVIRONMENTAL Management Agency (EMA) has pressed criminal charges against Penhalonga gold mining concern, Redwing Mine, over its failure to manage mine dumps that have reportedly been choking locals with dust fumes since about 18 months ago.
Redwing Mine is owned by Metallon Corporation Limited, Zimbabwe’s largest gold mining company which currently operates four large-scale gold mines across the country.
EMA provincial manager Kingston Chitotombe told Zim Morning Post in an exclusive interview that repeated efforts to engage the miners had failed to yield positive results.
“We filed charges against them and a docket has since been opened by Penhalonga police. We expect them in court soon,” Chitotombe said.
Tsvingwe – a high density suburb on the windward side of the dump has been bearing the brunt of the fumes, which have since worsened following closure of the mine about 18 months ago.
Residents have all along been complaining of respiratory problems, with those asthmatic and suffering from hay fever being affected the most.
Penhalonga Residents Trust chairperson Weston Makoni said locals fear for their health as they were not sure if the dust was sterile and had no chemical pollutants that could make their situation more dire.
“Nearly everyone in Tsvingwe has a hoarse voice from the dust fumes, and those with asthma are always suffering attacks, while those with hay fever are always sick.
“We are not sure if these are the only health complications or we are all suffering a slow death as the dust might still have chemical pollutants from the gold extraction processes,” Makoni said.
A Mines ministry official, Innocent Murapa, however assured concerned residents at a meeting recently that the dust was sterilised and that the company had made a commitment to continuously water the mine dumps in order to bring under control the dust emanating from its mining activities.
“The dust has been re-sterilised and they are not watering it. We are engaging Redwing Mine to continue to water it,” Murapa said.
Efforts to get a comment from Redwing Mine officials were fruitless at the time of publication.