Villagers demand removal of gold stamp mill

By Vumani Mthiyane

Doyana villagers in Ward 4, Umzingwane district under Chief Gwebu are up in arms with a miner who erected a stamp mill near their only water source, a development they say poses a health hazard for the area.

Stamp mills are popular among gold miners but are deemed to be a threat to the environment as they promote the use of mercury.

Mercury is a dangerous metal chemical with long term effects on the health of human beings and all other species.

Ntolo village headman Lazarus Nyathi said the stamp mill is located about 200 metres from the local dam.

“We were not consulted, we only saw big trucks moving in and installing the stamp mill without our consent,” said Nyathi.

Nyathi said while the identity of the owner of the stamp mill is yet to be known, it is believed the person is related to a powerful politician from Matabeleland.

Moffat Sibanda, a local villager, said if the stamp mill is allowed to operate it will affect their health.

“Chemicals used at the milling site will definitely impact negatively on our health and that of our livestock. Our animals drink water from the dam while the only borehole where people draw drinking water from is close by,” complained Sibanda.

Ward 4 Councillor Jetro Moyo said the stamp mill was erected without their approval.

“We are not the gold licensing authority but the truth is that as the rural authority we were not officially notified about this stamp mill. I would like to urge the villagers to write a petition and submit it at council chambers,” said Cllr. Moyo.

Umzingwane Member of Parliament, Levi Mayihlome who was in the dark said no one is above the law.

“My position is that we cannot have lawlessness in our communities. The law must be followed without fear or favour. No special people or sacred cows,” said MP Mayihlome.

Matabeleland South Deputy Mining Director Khumbulani Mlangeni said there are procedures that are followed before a stamp mill starts operating.

“Before the stamp mill operates it is a legal requirement to apply to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate that is when all stakeholders are supposed to be consulted and raise objections which the proponent must address before the certificate is issued, lodge complaint at EMA if due process was not followed,” he explained.

Commenting on the same issue, EMA provincial manager, Decent Ndlovu said his office is not aware of the development.

“Thank you for seeking comment regarding this Doyana stamp mill issue. The truth is that my office does not have any papers regarding to this mill hence it is an illegal entity.

There are only two registered milling stamps in that area. Now that the media has alerted us, my team will be going to the ground to investigate,” he said.

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