Environmentalist have petitioned government to establish a commission of inquiry into the Battlefields mine disaster which saw more than 25 people die in a collapsed mine shaft.
People and Earth Solidarity Law Network (PESLN) said a commission of inquiry has to be set up to investigate into the Battlefields Disaster and also look into property rights in the mining sector to ensure better utilisation of gold mines and safety of miners.
Addressing a press briefing on its preliminary report on the disaster, the organisation Director Tinashe Chisaira said,
“An inclusive, free and open Commission of Inquiry into the Battlefields Disaster is pertinent”.
“This commission should also analyse property right restrictions occasioned by large scale gold mine ownership and underutilisation of gold claims and blocks as well as on what really occurred during the Disaster.”
The organisation also blamed Rio Zim of being selfish, not opening up to other players in the industry when they failed to utilise.
“The company holds at least 260 mining claims in Mashonaland West Province.
According to recent company statements, the company is failing to utilise some of its accumulated assets.
However, the company has not filed for certificates of abandonment in terms of some of its mines, such as the ones in Battlefields, such abandonment is necessary in terms of section 259 of the Mines and Minerals Act.”
Other recommendations from the report were that:
“Disaster Response systems should be evaluated and adequately funded
The capacity of the Mines Ministry and miner federations need to be increased
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) should be more efficient in implementing its statutory roles”
The government last week released names of 24 miners who died when two Battlefields mines were flooded by water.
Only 8 were rescued and more work was being done to retrieve more bodies still trapped in the collapsed mine shaft.