oa South African Journal of Science - A call to halt destructive, illegal mining in Zimbabwe - news and views

Volume 113 Number 11-12
  • ISSN : 0038-2353
  • E-ISSN: 1996-7489



Amidst the socio-economic meltdown in Zimbabwe, increased illegal mining activities on recently discovered diamond and gold deposits have given local people a source of livelihood. The problem of illegal gold mining is fast spreading through the Eastern Highlands and other parts of the country, as hundreds of artisanal gold miners swarm to the area, tearing up natural forests and plantations. Illegal mining operations are now rampant in the Chimanimani Mountains, a narrow belt located on the eastern Zimbabwean/western Mozambican border. The hilly and generally inaccessible nature of these mountains has preserved much of the native flora and fauna, including some endemic or near endemic animals and plants, and thus they are an important habitat. The highlands are also a crucial international catchment and a major water source for thousands of families dependent on agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods. However, with an estimated 400 000 miners now operating illegally in Zimbabwe, the cumulative mining activities represent a major threat to people’s livelihood security and to the integrity of this crucial catchment, habitat and associated river systems.

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