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Zimbabwe: NGO says govt. & mining companies not doing enough to educate communities on Covid-19

‘COVID-19 Could Trigger Violence and Crime in Mining Communities – Zela’ 31 March 2020

 Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has warned of mounting fears in the artisanal gold sector that Coronavirus pandemic could trigger an outbreak of violence and crime. ZELA said in remote mining areas and underground pits, among artisanal miners, diggers and rural people "there is little or no knowledge of the causes, transmission, symptoms and effects of COVID-19." ZELA said it will be producing weekly assesments in selected mining communities to show the state of play in artisanal and small-scale mining, assessing how they are coping and responding to COVID-19.

…The civic organisation called for government and mining companies to upscale awareness in the artisanal gold mining sector, saying some miners are providing improvised personal protective equipment to the miners. ZELA said the weekly Situational Report will be compiled from simple, yet informative updates from a network of more than 200 community monitors in remote contact with its staff that is also on lockdown.

…"Government and mining companies have so far not done enough to educate communities on COVID-19 although some miners and communities are getting information circulated on social media and via the radio," said ZELA. Unscrupulous gold buyers have also taken advantage of the global bullion slump and are charging low prices forcing miners to prolong shifts to make up for price slump in volume, said ZELA. "Some mine owners live in fear that if they stop mining operations and go on self-isolation, they might lose their claims to other miners who may invade or takeover during their absence. "Gold buyers were reportedly buying gold on the cheap from artisanal miners since the prices had started to go down despite gold being a store of value, they will resale when prices go up after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

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