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Communities Surrounded by Rich Gold Mines Live in Abject Poverty

Granting Infield Mineral Exploration Pvt Ltd Company an exclusive prospecting order angers poor Filabusi villagers. Image by Unsplash

BY VUSINDLU MAPHOSA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | AUG 27, 2022

Homesteads in Filabusi are built on top of gold deposits but the community here battles biting underdevelopment. The presence of multinational mining companies now triggers anger amongst locals.

FILABUSI (The Citizen Bulletin) — For weeks now, villagers in Filabusi, Matabeleland South have to endure a whirring sound from an airplane that hovers in the sky every day.

A private mining company, Infield Mineral Exploration (IME) (Private) Limited, has been scouring the landscape in Filabusi from the sky in search of lithium, gold and other resources.

“During the survey, the plane will fly over the largest areas in parallel lines at a height of 35m above the ground. The plane will not drop anything nor spray any chemical as it uses geophysical instruments to gather the required data,” reads a notice signed by Allan Mashingaidze, the Exploration and Mining Executive at Duration Gold Zimbabwe.

The notice says the company was granted five exclusive prospecting orders (EPOs) in Filabusi. But poor villagers are not amused.

Filabusi is saddled by alarming poverty, poor roads, lack of clinics and other social amenities despite the rich gold deposits in the area.

Authorities have not hesitated to unleash anti-riot police to chase away villagers digging up the soil of the earth in search of the yellow mineral.

With Zimbabwe going through its worst economic crisis, villagers risk arrest and engage in illegal gold mining to make a living, sparking gold rushes often leading to violence.

Thembelani Sibanda, a villager, says the exploration of their riches by private companies such as IME at the expense of their locals is not to be celebrated as Filabusi remains backward.

“We are very poor here in Filabusi although our place hosts many artisanal, small-scale and large mining companies. If you look at our road network, the schools, the health facilities, we are so backward,” Sibanda says.

“We are tired of people who come and loot our resources and leave us poorer.”

Elias Mpofu weighs in saying even promises of jobs by private companies prospecting for gold in the area do not inspire villagers because of previously unfulfilled promises.

Mpofu says IME officials were recently chased away from a local farm where they had gone to prospect for gold.

“This aircraft has been looking for lithium or gold, they are surveying as we have seen it going from one place to the other. We are told they were at DeBeers Farm where they were chased away by the farmers who told them they do not want to see them at their farm,” Mpofu says.

Mpofu says the community also laments the impact of the mining activities which he says has been destructive.

In most parts of Matabeleland South, concerns of environmental degradation caused by artisanal miners are growing louder.

Land degradation as well as water and air pollution have become perennial challenges for the villagers as mining companies operating in the area have destroyed roads and discharged effluent into rivers.

Previously, villagers complained about the death of their cattle and goats due to effluent discharge.

In other parts of the country, concerns of environmental degradation by mining companies are growing louder.

Most companies have a poor social corporate responsibility track record and have been accused of looting resources from the resource-rich communities leaving behind a trail of poverty.

Matabeleland South Acting Mining director, Khumbulani Mlangeni says villagers will be given an opportunity to air their views about any planned mining project.

“Yes, the company was granted Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPO) over the area, an aeromagnetic survey is just a scan of the ground to determine rock formations without any excavation,” Mlangeni says.

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The EPO is a large area of ground targeting the selected minerals for exploration.

“Once areas of economic potential are identified, detailed ground exploration may follow if the company gets Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certification after stakeholder consultation.

“Plus all the exploration results are shared with the ministry of mines so that any interested stakeholder can request and air their views and concerns before any mining takes place.”

*Edited by Lizwe Sebatha | Fact Checked & Proofread by Melody Mpande | Reviewed & Commissioned by Divine Dube.

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