Revealed: Zim's illegal gold panning crisis
The M&G has obtained footage that shows unemployed Zimbabweans turning to illegal gold mining in a desperate bid to make money, resulting in many deaths.
Zimbabwe has rich mineral resource deposits and many unemployed citizens have turned to illegal alluvial panning of minerals and the exploration of closed mine shafts as a means of income. The revisiting of gold mines in particular is reported to be the most dangerous form of this growing illegal trade with desperate miners suffering hours of brutal working conditions without basic safety clothing and equipment.
This already resulted in a number of deaths from collapsed mine shafts, exhaustion and diseases from unclean water.
These operations are also raising concerns about the negative effects on the environment as the miners cause enormous land degradation, rampant deforestation and uncontrolled siltation of rivers.
Zimbabwe's state-owned newspaper the Herald reported that government proposed the legalisation of all informal mining in a move to create conducive processing of the minerals and in turn reduce risks to the miners by formalising and structuring these operations.
Critics of this proposal believe the conditions will not necessarily be improved because the miners will be further exploited by the current government.