GOVERNMENT, through the Environment Management Agency (EMA), has partnered a South African engineering firm, Boltgas, to provide low cost mining equipment to small-scale miners.
Boltgas already has operations in the country and is based in the mining town of Zvishavane in the Midlands province.
EMA is grappling with the problem of rampant illegal mining activities by panners popularly known as amakorokoza/magweja. The environmental watchdog has taken a bold move to sanitise mining activities by assisting small-scale miners to regularise their operations and comply with environmental regulations.
Last week EMA launched a programme to empower miners to adopt safe mining methods at low cost. The initiative is part of EMA’s 100-day programme under the new dispensation.
The initiative has given birth to New Generation Mine in Mphoengs, about 100 kilometres from Plumtree Town, which is a cooperative project formed by gold panners from the area.
In rolling out the project, EMA put to tender the supply of low cost mining equipment, which was won by the South African firm.
Boltgas Engineering operations manager, Mr Onias Sithole, confirmed the deal.
“Boltgas Engineering was awarded the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) tender number EMA/10/2016 for the supply of mining equipment. As per this tender, Boltgas Engineering provided the equipment that was stated in each lot, installed the equipment as required and commissioned the equipment on site using suitably trained personnel,” he said.
“The equipment included hammer mill, jaw crusher, compressors, jack hammers, hoist and skip, generator and complete water reticulation including water tank and pipes. Boltgas also provided training on the safe, proper use and handling of the machinery, including training manuals as required.”
New Generation Mine deputy chairperson, Mrs Sithembinkosi Lunga, said the mining venture was born after repeated arrests and fines at the courts for offences of violating the environment laws.
“We were arrested and fined several times after EMA raided us. This was after villagers had started gold panning following a gold rush, which brought many people from different parts of country who invaded our fields.
“EMA then advised us to form a cooperative, register our mining activities legally, and in turn it will help source for mining equipment.
“This is the equipment we are using today and our work has been made easier. We encourage other villagers to follow suit and we tender our gratitude to the Government and EMA,” said Mrs Lunga.
The project has improved the livelihoods of the people of Mphoengs. The partnership between EMA and Boltgas could be a panacea to safe mining methods in the small-scale mining sector, which is often accused of being the major culprit of environmental degradation. Boltgas Engineering was also exhibiting at the just ended ZITF.