WOMEN mining in Matabeleland South Province want a bigger slice of the cake and are seeking small-scale mining claims in gold rich areas across the province.
Gwanda District sits on the Greenstone gold belt which hosts notable gold producers including Blanket, Vubachikwe, Jersey, Freda and Horn mines.
Women in mining believe mining claims in richer areas will improve the scope of their work, spur their growth and increase their returns in general.
Speaking during an engagement meeting with women in production in Gwanda last week, Mthandazo Women Miners Association chairperson Ms Sithembile Ndlovu said their current claims were not yielding much.
“We want rich claims where we can realise significant gains. We also want our families and the country as a whole to prosper. We recently pegged at areas that were giving us 50g of gold ore or less yet richer areas are available.
We’re failing to get access to rich mining claims and it would seem men are going ahead of us in this regard. We don’t know how the men are doing it but they’re getting the claims,” said Ms Ndlovu.
She said various income streams were funding their operations.
“We’ve been getting loans through the Ministry of Women Affairs (Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development) to fund our operations. Through the assistance of the ministry, we continue to grow.
Mthandazo is now sustainable as we speak. We have students on attachment coming from universities for procurement at Mthandazo because there’s money from investors that needs to be accounted for. Some of us did not study accounting but through these students who are doing accounting, we’re able to keep our books in order.”
Ms Ndlovu, who is also the Zimbabwe Miners Federation Matabeleland South Chapter Women Affairs Secretary encouraged more women to join the mining industry.
“As it stands, I was the only woman who contested in the ZMF Matabeleland South chapter elections. Women don’t realise the potential they have to contribute towards the prosperity of the country. We also need agents in our districts to help the miners so that they’re not burdened by the work.
Women used to be scared to approach the Ministry of Mines (and Mining Development) but through various engagements, we’re now being assisted.”
Ms Ndlovu bemoaned the violence and gangsterism in some mining areas in the province.
“We’re now scared of being attacked and appeal to the relevant authorities to assist us so that we feel secure. Moving around with as little as 10g of gold ore is now dangerous as it is still worth a lot of money that someone would want to steal from you,” she said.
Illegal gold miners have sprouted all over the province as they seek the precious metal.
Mineral output is a source of foreign currency and mining is a source of employment for many.
However, illegal gold miners have left a trail of destruction in some communities while in other areas, crime rates have risen because of the influx of illegal gold miners.