Villagers in Shurugwi have accused Unki Mine of polluting the Mutevekwi River, making the water unsuitable for domestic use or for livestock.
Villagers who spoke to The Mirror said the most affected areas are Gutsaruzhinji, Chironde, Adare Farm and Dzikamidzi.
Environmental Management Authority (EMA) District Officer, Severino Kangara, confirmed the complaints and said the turbidity (suspended material) in Mutevekwi River was too high.
He said EMA has ordered Unki to control the discharge from its operations. Said Kangara:
The water in the river is milky which is a sign that suspended solids which should settle before discharge are too high.
The discharge should be within permissive standards but as it is its turbidity is high. We have ordered Unki to control such discharge.
It is suspected that pollution is coming from the mine’s slime dam (dam used to store byproducts of mining operations after separating the ore from the gangue).
Tamuka Ncube from Chironde Growth Point told The Mirror that water from the Mutevekwi River is no longer suitable for laundry, bathing, irrigation or for cattle to drink. He said:
Water from Mutevekwi is no longer suitable for laundry, bathing, irrigation or drinking.
We don’t know what will happen to our cattle if they drink this water so everyone is keeping their domestic animals from Mutevekwi River.
Villagers who have bathed with water from the river have suffered skin irritations.
We appeal to EMA, Tongogara RDC and the District Development Co-ordinator to intervene as a matter of urgency.
Tongogara Rural District Council (RDC) vice-chairman Golden Kapeta said samples of water from the river have since been sent to laboratories for tests. Said Kapeta:
We heard the complaints and we are acting to assist the affected communities. Samples are being taken today for analysis and Unki Mine has been engaged as well.