A major investment in black granite mining in Uzumba, which includes the processing of the stone rather than just the mining, still needs to have the compensation deal worked out with the 89 households who may have to move.
Discussions also have to include sparing sacred places in the area.
Government has stepped in to help work out a deal between Kaseke villagers in Uzumba and Heijin, a Chinese mining company intending to extract black granite, which intends to undertake processing of the stone thereby creating value and jobs.
Yesterday, a high-powered Government delegation led by Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura and Mashonaland East Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution Senator Aplonia Munzverengwi met in Mutawatawa with the affected people represented by their chiefs to map the way forward.
During the meeting, the affected people said although they welcome development in their community, there were no consultations by the mining company.
Making his submissions, Chief Nyajina from Uzumba called for the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to immediately intervene and put a stop to any intended operation until all necessary steps are followed.
The chief, like other affected members of the Kaseke community, was of the view that due diligence was not followed by the Ministry of Mines officials.
“We have other companies in this area that engaged us before they started mining operations and there are places, which we told them are sacred and should not be disturbed. These companies listened to us. But this company we are dealing with is not like that. I do not know where their powers are coming from. I think their powers must be cut.”
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Kambamura said the complaints from villagers will be addressed.
“We came here to hear the complaints from the villagers and that there were some irregularities in the way the claims were pegged. Miners who operate here did not do enough community consultations so we have taken note of the grievances.
“We have assured them that we will attend to their issues and resolve all those disputes so that they work in harmony with the miners. We are going to invite the miners to the Ministry and our officials who are working in this province to come to the Ministry and explain on what actually transpired in the issuance of those licenses.
Minister Munzverengwi said there was need to swiftly address all the mining issues in the province.
“There are a lot of complaints from communities in this province concerning mining activities and there is need to quickly address them, especially in areas like Makaha in Mudzi, here in UMP . Yes we need and welcome development in our province but our people need should not be sidelined in these decisions which involve them.
“They are to be consulted first and listen to their concerns, so that those who would mine in their communities would know of what they are expected of. There are shrines and other sacred places in communities which are not to be disturbed and these are some of the concerns our people have. So it is very important for these issues to be addressed as quickly as possible.
“I want to thank the delegation that came here to listen to our grievances.”
Uzumba legislator Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa called on authorities to investigate Mines and Mining Development provincial officers on how they gave Heijin mining licence.