Gold Panning in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe

Description

The City of Kwekwe is sustained by both formal and informal mining activities. As industry collapsed owing to a decade-long political crisis, thousands of workers formerly employed by collapsing mining companies and downstream industries turned to artisanal gold panning for survival. Gold panning requires plenty of water for processing of gold. Due to lack of capital and the unorganized nature of gold panning in Kwekwe, panners have turned to bizarre methods of processing gold. The Kwekwe City Council has raised an outcry that gold panners are deliberately blocking sewerage pipes and breaking water pipes in and around the city to access water for gold purification. The panners are also uprooting both indigenous trees and exotic trees planted by the Council as part of land reclamation. Gold panning in Kwekwe is controlled by a cartel of senior cabinet ministers and politicians who buy the gold from the panners. In January 2012 a new gold rush began in Kwekwe following the discovery of gold nuggets by local panners at Sherwood Park. ZANU PF provincial leaders immediately sealed the area and declared it a ZANU PF territory. Environmental Management Agency has been helpless in dealing with panners due to their affiliation to politicians.

Basic Data
NameGold Panning in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe
CountryZimbabwe
ProvinceMidlands
SiteKwekwe
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Mineral processing
Specific CommoditiesGold
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsGold panning is a clandestine activity that is criminalized in Zimbabwe. The exact value of the gold extracted may never be known
Project Area (in hectares)250000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population200,000 - 300,000
Start Date2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesKwekwe Consolidated Gold Mines from Australia - There are no official companies involved in artisanal mining in Kwekwe.
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Mines and Mining Development, Zimbabwe National Water Authority , Minsitry of Local Government, Ministry of Tourism
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEnvironmental Management Agency, Zimbabwe National Water Authority, Kwekwe City Council, The Media
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups MobilizingLocal government/political parties
Kwekwe Town Council
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Kwekwe Town Council has appealed to the government, Environmental Management Agency and the Police for help.
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Deaths
Repression
Militarization of the area
Development of AlternativesThe alternative suggested by Kwekwe Town Council is for government to regularize the work of artisanal miners, give them licences and train them to mine in a manner that preserves the environment. Criminalising artisanal mining does not stop the practice, rather it ensures that they become lawless and harmful both to the environment and to themselves
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Environmental Management Agency focuses its efforts on big corporations, maybe because they have a physical address and also they have the capacity to pay fines. However EMA has not done anything about panners. The situation is compounded by the involvement of cabinet ministers and senior politicians who render EMA ineffective
Sources and Materials
Legislations

FOREST ACT ACT 19 05

ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT ACT ACT 20 27

WATER ACT ACT 20 24

ZIMBABWE NATIONAL WATER AUTHORITY ACT ACT 20 25

GOLD TRADE ACT ACT 21

COUNCILS ACT ACT 29 15

LAW AND ORDER (MAINTENANCE) ACT ACT 11

MINERALS MARKETING CORPORATION OF ZIMBABWE ACT ACT 21 MINES AND MINERALS ACT ACT 21 05

ZIMBABWE MINING DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION ACT ACT 21 08

References

KWEKWE: A MORIBUND DISTRICT; GEOSCIENCE CAN CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS RESCUING THE SITUATION Tariro Charakupa-Chingono

Kwekwe, Zimbabwe.

Links

(see attachment)

Gold panning activities lead to closure of Kwekwe school
[click to view]

[click to view]

Removal of barriers to the introduction

in the Kadoma-Chakari area, Zimbabwe.

Part A: Environmental Assessment

of cleaner artisanal gold mining

and extraction technologies

Env Assessment finalA.pdf
[click to view]

Media Links

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ContributorFarai Maguwu
Last update03/10/2014
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