Of Artisanal Mining: The Challenges

Guest Article by Loveness Manzunzu

My name is Loveness and I am in my mid 30s. I worked as a mine secretary for a couple of years until I resigned in 2019 due to personal health challenges. I tried a lot of hustles including selling hair, clothes, shoes and kitchen ware. That didn’t really work for me….

….Then I started mining.

As everyone knows that an artisanal miner or small-scale miner (ASM) is a subsistence miner who is not officially employed by a mining company, but works independently, mining minerals using their own resources, usually by hand.

I started off as a sponsor. It was all good at first.

I had no resources to peg my own mine so, I started with people with their own mines and agreed on  certain percentages.

Artisanal Small Scale Miners Zimbabwe.
Artisanal Miners Image Credit NewsDay

In most cases, this one is like a time bomb, its fair at first and disastrous at last. You sponsor, they get large gold deposits, they lie and say smaller quantities.

It’s hard to be the only person running around so, I employed 2 people to monitor my things. One of them started hiring out my compressor and when he got paid, would keep it to himself. He started sharing gold with the miners and he would say, “There is nothing of late…

Then came a time for the gold mobilisation teams to get to our sites. There were EMA (Environmental Management Agency), Ministry of Mines and CID (Criminal Investigation Department) Minerals )perations. When they reached our site that’s when I realised we were operating at a mine with no proper paperwork.

We were asked to stop operations and we did.

Proper paperwork is a must because the losses won’t be bearable.

We resumed operation but without proper papers. After a while, there was an operation for all illegal mining activities without paperwork. They took all my equipment and other people’s equipment to the police camp.

We went there to claim our machines and equipment. We were asked to produce our papers which we didn’t have. We called the mine owner and he said we were on our own. I was shattered because we always gave him his percentage fairly. This was a great loss of thousands of dollars

At this point I had nowhere to start. All my savings went down the drain just like that. I tried all I could to recover and I only recovered the compressor. That was better but it wasn’t trust me.

I made a risky decision and sold a piece of land I had. I worked on my prospecting license, pegged a block in Shurugwi. The samples were so great and I was back on my feet. Everyone started talking about my place.

In no time, I was served with papers that I pegged in an RA

RA means reserved area. I had hopes that they would say it was a mistake and I can resume operations. I started going to the offices but, that was the truth, I had to stop my operations. Imagine the equipment I had bought, the employees I had. This affected not just me but my guys.

After some months that RA is now being mined by a certain guy called Sibanda. I was shattered. We move though. I moved to our family mine and started working as a mine secretary. You know family business can be messy so I resigned. I then started something else.

I sold the compressor and pumps to buy ballmills. We had 50/50 shares with my manager after paying our employees. Somedays we made large profits, somedays we made losses depending on the samples. It was all good until last month (June 2022) when they stole 40 tonnes from my base and others.

According  to our lab results  we lost ore worth 280grams. That was all I had. I don’t have any start now and I think I should kiss this trade goodbye. It drained me so much.

Its crazy that when someone does mining people see them as rich but there are a lot of losses there…

—article was adapted from a Twitter Thread originally published on 22 July 22.

About the Author


Professionally she is a secretary but has worn several hats on her well coiffured locs. A dog lover straigh outta Gutu and supports Manchester United. She has not yet returned to running her own small scale mining operation but works with someone else where she has her own ball mill and gives them 30% as tribute on the sands.

You can connect with Loveness on Twitter @ManzunzuN



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