Careless Depositing of Hot Mining Residue Threatens Lives in Colleen Bawn
Careless depositing of hot residue around Collen Bawn mine puts lives in danger. Image by allAfrica
In Gwanda, residents, particularly children, and livestock are at risk of falling into hot residue carelessly deposited around Colleen Bawn mine.
GWANDA (The Citizen Bulletin) — 27-year-old Moses Dube is extremely exhausted as he knocks off at Alpha Stamp Mill at Callen Bawn in Matabeleland South where he has been toiling all day.
On his way home, the hunger stricken Dube unknowingly steps into a hot mine residue deposit. He trips and eventually falls on top of it, an incident which leaves him permanently scalded.
“Instead of working for my family, I spent weeks admitted at United Bulawayo Hospital. Collen Bawn Mine almost cost me my life.”
Moses Dube, 27-year-old victim
Carelessly depositing hot mining residue has become a major health hazard for locals of the mining town.
At Colleen Bawn Mine, unfenced areas, where the hot residue is deposited, are often used as outdoor toilets and children’s playgrounds as well as cattle grazing areas.
The mine is not far off the Gwanda-Beitbridge highway where cement is manufactured by Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC).
Late January this year, media reports indicated that three children were recovering at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo from severe leg burns sustained after they jumped into hot residue deposited by a mine not far off the Gwanda-Beitbridge highway.
They were first admitted at Gwanda Provincial Hospital and were then transferred to Mater Dei Hospital, says Sibanda.
Gwanda Provincial Hospital
Nobubelo Ndlovu, 34, a resident of Colleen Bawn says it was sad that children were suffering the consequences of carelessness by mining companies.
“It is a pity the boys had to go through much pain,” says Ndlovu with a heavy heart.
Gwanda Residents Association Representative (GRA) Wellington Nare says the community is disturbed that the mine is not taking the health hazard seriously.
He says they now live in fear, especially for their children who cannot read warning signs.
Because of poor security measures, children have been the majority of the victims, sustaining life-threatening injuries and deformities, says Nare.
“Our children are not safe at all,” he says.
For Nare, mining companies located within communities must deposit their residue in line with the occupational health and safety standards.
“They (mining companies) have an obligation to follow the mining and safety laws which ensure the protection of humans and the environment from all dangers,” says Nare.
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“The gases in the residue are said to be dangerous not only to humans but to the environment too, hence the need for the company to make sure they do all their activities in a way that doesn't affect community rights.”
Head of Operations and Projects for PPC Zimbabwe Dr Marvellas Sibanda confirmed some locals have suffered serious burns from hot mining residue but could no comment any further.
Eyewitnesses suspect that the residue comes from clinker, a fine ash-like product used to manufacture cement, and is usually disposed of, after being cooled down by water.
It is unclear, however, how the hot residue has found its way into an open area exposed to the public.
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Colleen Bawn mine, Public health, Matabeleland South, Gwanda
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