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Safety Health & Environmental: ASMers taking the SHE culture seriously.

17 September 2021

By Joshua Y Machinga.

Introduction

Building on from the previous writings that detailed why safety, health and environment (SHE) is critical for the sustainable development of the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector[1], this blog details what the artisanal and small-scale miners (ASMers) have done with regards to upholding SHE. Organisations such as the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), have been advocating for the formalisation of the ASM sector, including engraining the SHE culture amongst ASMers. To that end, there have been several SHE trainings where ASMers have been trained on SHE issues. This is because a mind shift approach and model is required on safety, health, sustainable and responsible mining in the ASM sector.

Background

Of late the ASM sector has become a critical poverty reduction strategy for millions of people around the country. The small-scale miners’ gold delivery to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) continues to surge with August figures showing that the sector delivered 1.91 tonnes while large scale miners delivered 1.03 tonnes. Despite the increased gold deliveries, the artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) are convinced that creating a conducive and appropriate legal and policy framework for the sector will triple the gains. This then makes it critical to ensure that safety and health prevails in the sector.

To ensure that SHE culture is spread to the ASMers, the capacitated miners formed the Zimbabwe Mining Safety Health and Environmental Council[2] (ZIMSHEC)[3]. The organisation was launched on the 10th of September 2021 inspired by several trainings undertaken by the ZELA with support from Christian Aid.

Speaking during the official launch of the Council, an event held at a local hotel in Bulawayo and attended by different stakeholders, the guest of honour and Deputy Chief Government Engineer Tapererwa Noel Pasikwavaviri had this to say,

“The official launch of the ZIMSHEC could not have come at a better time. Our country has achieved milestones in passing and enforcing legislation on health and safety across the board and we have managed to reduce workplace injury and deaths. However, a myriad of challenge are still faced in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector where to a greater extent there is laxity in upholding health and safety standards.

It is therefore befitting that we are gathered here today to launch an important programme that will go a long way in ensuring health, safety, sustainable and enhanced productivity in the ASM sector. For us as a country, to achieve a 12 billion mining economy by 2023 there is need for a multisectoral approach. As a Ministry, we are ready to partner with all stakeholders to ensure that our mines are not death traps.”

In his official address, the Secretary General Mr Philemon Mokuele highlighted that the Council wants to provide continuous training on safety and environmental issues among artisanal and small-scale miners. Mokuele also acknowledged ZELA and partners for raising awareness among ASM players on different aspects including Occupational Health and Safety risks including how these can be addressed in order to sustainably and consistently promote safe mining practices and environmental stewardship.

Miners do acknowledge that formalization is a process and assert that an enabling environment must be created for the sector to thrive. This will also minimize negative environmental and health impacts that are common in ASM.


[1] https://machingajoshy.wordpress.com/2020/11/12/safety-and-health-in-the-artisanal-and-small-scale-mining-asm-sector-is-key-for-sustainable-mining-development/

[2] The Zimbabwe Safety Health & Environmental Council (ZIMSHEC), an organisation founded by artisanal and small-scale miners in Zimbabwe whose aim is to promote occupational health and safety and reduce deaths in mines around the country.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3sSt69aVgI

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