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Zimbabwe’s informal gold mines: violence, criminals and chaos

By Patrick Smith
Posted on Wednesday, 9 December 2020 09:05, updated on Tuesday, 15 December 2020 10:41

A surge of attacks linked to Zimbabwe's growing artisanal mining sector, has killed hundreds of miners.

As the country’s economy continues to weaken, especially following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of those of working age can be found in the artisanal mines, eking out a living, especially with the hopes of finding gold.

READ MORE Mining in Africa and beyond: Tracking the great gold rush

A police force set up to stop the violence is one thing, but many are now are calling on the  government to look into reforms that will allow citizens to mine legally and stop the gangs controlling the work.

The International Crisis Group has just published a report called All That Glitters is Not Gold: Turmoil in Zimbabwe’s Mining Sector that delves into illicit mines of the country and particularly those toiling for gold and what the government should to ensure the mineral wealth stays in Zimbabwe while its miners are cared for.

READ MORE Zimbabwe: Losing millions from illicit gold mining trade

In this week’s Talking Africa podcast, we speak to Piers Pigou, one of the authors of the report and a Senior Consultant on Southern Africa at the ICG.

He says most of the artisanal miners operate within syndicates. These are “small groups of miners between five and 10, maybe up to 20” that operate with a sponsor “who’s often a politically connected individual who will provide financing for that syndicate to operate in a particular area.”


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