MINE COLLAPSE: Trapped underground for 4 days; gold panners survived on roots and leaves, in water up to neck level

MINE COLLAPSE: Trapped underground for 4 days; gold panners survived on roots and leaves, in water up to neck level

By Staff Reporter

The 15 gold panners who were trapped underground at Redwing Mine last Thursday after a shaft collapsed have told how they survived the horrific ordeal before rescue efforts succeeded on Sunday.

Owned by Metallon Corporation, Redwing mine is located in Penhalonga near Mutare in the eastern Manicaland province.

Promise Gumbo, one of the rescued miners, told State media that after the shaft collapsed, they were left perched in a corner.

“We followed cracks, opening them until we came closer to the surface. We sought refuge at the far corner of the shaft when the mine was collapsing,” he said.

“We were eating the roots of trees and leaves to survive. We would taste the roots before eating. That resulted in us surviving.

“There are many cracks down there and the ground is not safe. We also survived due to teamwork.”

Another survivor Kodzana Dzima, said it was a “terrible” experience.

“All the entrances were closed after the mine collapsed,” explained Dzima.

“There are approximately four hectares of underground which collapsed. We followed the cracks where there was light and this helped us move closer to where we were eventually assisted. We moved a distance of about 1km to come out.”

One man who had four family members among the trapped miners said it was miracle they had been rescued.

“I had four brothers underground out of the 15 and they are all alive. I am so happy. I am very happy that the 15 miners have come out alive,” he said.

“This development is testimony that there is God above who protects us. This is only by the grace of God. We were all worried and we never expected that the miners would come out alive. People had lost hope that the trapped miners would come out alive. It’s a miracle.”

Mine owner Metallon Corporation said there was need for the restoration of formalised operations at the site.

“Redwing Mine has historically operated as a formalised, large-scale mine,” the company said in a statement.

“When the mine was placed under corporate rescue in 2020, and under the management of an administrator, artisanal mining was introduced on a wide scale. This incident occurred in one of the artisanal mining near-surface pits.”

The company added; “In 2022, the Supreme Court effectively removed the mine from corporate rescue.

“Since then, Metallon has been engaged in processes to restore formalised mining. As part of these processes, Metallon is ending unsafe mining practices, including all small-scale mining, and returning these operations to the formalised mining that Metallon has always conducted.”