Growing Citizens’ Concern on Mercury and Cyanide Contamination on the Environment Amid Gold Plunder in Penhalonga

Today, 08 November 2021, the Zimbabwe Republic Police: Penhalonga,Environmental Management Agency(EMA) Ministry of Mines and Mutasa Rural District Council kick started an operation intended on removing illegal gold processing plants that have mushroomed around Penhalonga. The activity was in response to citizens demand for accountability around gold mining in Penhalonga.

The action was informed by on going research by CRD on human rights impacts of gold mining operations around Penhalonga. Information gathered so far shows that there is uncontrolled use of mercury and cyanide in illegal gold hammer mills and cyniadation processing makeshift structures that is seeping into community rivers and areas of human settlement around Penhalonga.

The research also indicate that these illegal operations are owned by individuals connected to political elites and state security operatives hence the fear of political victimisation by regulatory authorities to effect the rule of law in the area. The research culminated into citizens groups led by CRD writing a letter to government demanding accountability for environmental crime and looting of gold taking place in Penhalonga. It is however disturbing to note that today EMA issued 4 tickets for 72 000 Zim dollars to each of the 4 illegal hammer mill operators that the team visited instead of shutting down their operations. The CRD is also disturbed to know that the operations were mysteriously called off as soon as they had started. CRD followed up on the matter with the police and was informed that the operations will resume tomorrow on 8 November 2021.

The CRD and other concerned citizens groups will be following closely on developments unfolding in the area until the government enforces the rule of law in the affected communities.

Source: Centre for Research and Development Zimbabwe

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