MINE fatalities have risen 37% in the year to date with 67 people having perished in mine-related accidents as mining firms, facing funding challenges, are bypassing protocols.
On the other hand, the lack of economic opportunities in other sectors has also triggered an invasion by artisanal miners of abandoned gold mines where working conditions are dangerous.
This has seen mineshafts flooding, killing illegal miners.
Mining experts have attributed these fatal incidences to resource challenges being faced by miners.
Association of Mine Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) president Elton Gwatidzo recently told the Zimbabwe Independent that the incidences affected both the formal and informal mining sectors.
He noted that fatalities rose to 67 in 2022 from 42 in 2021.
However, there was a marginal decrease in serious injuries by 24,4% to 4261 in the year from 5641 in 2021.
“In terms of statistics, we are sitting badly as a country in both the formal and the informal mines,” he said.
“Several mines are facing challenges in terms of resourcing and supplying adequate equipment in the mining industry, therefore, there is a tendency of shortcuts as miners are focused on production without adequate resources.
“Lack of skills is another issue contributing to mine accidents. There is a need to continuously train and conduct awareness on various mining employees so that they are aware of their obligations in terms of managing safety,” Gwatidzo said.
Economic pressures buoyed by emerging trends like electricity hikes and other issues have been exerting pressure on the mining industry. Gwatidzo said issues to do with corporate governance have contributed to law breaches in the mines while substandard mining methods and shortcuts have played a role.
“The other area is that on the regulation where there is a need to monitor and ensure miners continuously are operating safely,” he said.
“Cooperate governance issues are a problem and that is the reason why there is a need to aggressively fight corruption.”
Gwatidzo said mining companies were facing several challenges, such as electricity shortages, which are threatening their survival, The power utility recently hiked electricity by 40% to US12,21 cents, a tariff, which miners say is unsustainable.
“The tariff unilaterally declared by the power utility will drive companies out of existence. Remember the mines have been facing challenges and a 40% increase in real terms is ridiculous,” Gwatidzo said.
“The power utility cannot generate adequate electricity for the country and that has been affecting companies.
“It is expensive for mines at the moment and we may see mines closing down because of the charging regime from the power utility,” he said.
Gwatidzo said access to finance was a major challenge for miners buoyed by imported inflationary pressures.
“You may appreciate that the Russia–Ukraine war. It is a threat in terms of inflation therefore companies are choked,” he said.