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Seven workers killed as skip falls 240m at gold mine in Zimbabwe

19 May, 2022What could have been knocking off time at the end of a shift became the tragic end of the lives of seven gold mine workers who were killed when the cork skip used in hoisting them to the surface fell down a 240 meter deep shaft after the wire rope snapped.

The accident happened at Bucks Mine near Gwanda on 14 May and the bodies of the deceased workers have since been retrieved after recovery efforts by the ministry of mines and mining development and other mine rescue teams. According to reports, by using an 8 mm wire rope to hoist the skip to the surface, the mine owners were dicing with the workers’ lives.
According to a government audit of occupational health and safety in the mines, there is inadequate monitoring of small and medium scale mines resulting in most of the mines not complying with health and safety standards. Mining inspection were also not being carried out.

Further, there were no risk assessment policies and programmes at the mines, and workers were not provided with personal protective equipment. The audit recommended comprehensive training for the mine managers.

Justice Chinhema, general secretary of the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union says:

“We would like to express heartfelt condolences to the families of the seven workers who died in the accident. Our union has repeatedly raised concerns that safety regulations are being ignored in the artisanal and small-scale mines. This accident could have been avoided if safety standards were practiced. The union will assist the deceased workers families to sue the mine owners for compensation as the deaths are due to negligence.”

Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director for mining, who is also responsible for health and safety says:

“We are shocked to receive the news of the death of the mine workers due to negligence by the employer. It is the responsibility of mine owners to ensure that they always adhere to mine safety standards. It is appalling for mine owners to use sub-standard and makeshift equipment that put the workers lives at risk. To deal with this violation of workers’ rights to safety, we will continue to advocate for unions to demand better health and safety conditions in the mines and have set up the Sub-Saharan Africa health and safety platform to equip unions on how this can be done.”