Sukoluhle Ndlovu Midlands Correspondent
Government has ordered chrome miners to stop operations along Shurugwi-Zvishavane Highway with immediate effect saying the activity was threatening the million-dollar highway and lives due to unplanned extraction of the mineral.
Since the surge in chrome prices on the world market, there has been an increase in the extraction of the mineral along the road, a development that has seen excavators and front-end loaders being used by miners just a few metres from the Shurugwi-Zvishavane highway.
The development is causing disturbances to motorists, pausing a hazard and threatening the road infrastructure.
Outgoing Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs, Owen Ncube and senior Government officials toured the highway yesterday where he ordered chrome mining activities to be stopped forthwith.
After touring the place, Minister Ncube castigated the miners for being irresponsible saying their reckless methods were destroying the road and putting lives and livestock in danger.
“This is an irresponsible way of mining. We are not saying people should not mine, but they must do so responsibly. They should do their mining activities away from the road and homesteads,” he said.
“The pits dug here could be a death trap for livestock and other wild animals as well as people who stay in the surrounding areas. So chrome mining along this road is suspended until proper mining methods are applied and far away from the road.”
Minister Ncube said such “irresponsible” mining activities could drive away investors.
“Imagine if investors were to see this place, activities here show that you are not responsible as miners here and it has the potential to drive investors away. The place has literally become an eyesore. Let’s mine responsibly,” he said.
The provincial minister encouraged EMA and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to make sure that all miners were conducting mining activities using the correct methods.
“I appeal to responsible authorities like EMA and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to make sure mining activities in the province are conducted using the right methods.
“We can’t be destroying our road and putting lives of motorists in great danger,” he said.
The tour was attended by officials from Runde District Council, EMA, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Government department heads and small-scale miners. In March, 64 miners were fined over $2 000 by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for environmental degradation and failing to reclaim pits left after the extraction of chrome.