Illegal miners die in Zimbabwe

66

At least nine illegal gold miners died in Zimbabwe after they detonated explosives underground and were trapped at a mine owned by unlisted London-headquartered Metallon Corporation north of Harare, the company said.

Metallon put its Mazowe Mine on care and maintenance last September, citing viability problems. One of Zimbabwe’s biggest gold producers, it operates three other mines.

Metallon said in a statement the mine collapse happened on Sunday when illegal miners gained access to underground shafts and blasted.

“Tragically nine panners lost their lives. None of these miners were employees of Metallon and all involved keeping the mine on care and maintenance are accounted for,” Metallon said.

At least 24 people died in February when shafts were flooded at abandoned mines in Battlefield, west of Harare.

With formal unemployment above 80%, thousands of young men risk their lives daily working in dangerous underground tunnels in search of gold, Zimbabwe’s largest mineral export earner.

The southern African nation is working to regulate thousands who illegally dig for gold on farms and abandoned mines mostly under cover of darkness.