The spokesperson for the provincial government in Mozambique’s Manica region said activities are underway to clean up six rivers that had been polluted by illegal gold miners. Estevão Rupela said the clean-up was undertaken by the environmental police unit in collaboration with the provincial directorate of mineral resources.
According to the official, the work had allowed the authorities to control rivers previously devastated by artisanal miners and the environment that had been damaged by the miners’ use of harmful chemicals such as mercury, borax and sodium borate.
The clean-up has managed to improve the quality of the Chimeza, Lucite, Nhancuarara and Zambuzi rivers.
Rupela added that there are still high levels of pollutants in the two largest rivers concerned, the Pungoe and the Revue.
“Our recommendation is that the work begun in 2015, to halt the pollution of the rivers, should be monitored to ensure that the water for irrigation and for livestock to drink is clean,” said Rupela.
The Manica government had set December 2015 as the deadline for eliminating pollution from the rivers, but the miners have resisted the police operations intended to shut down illegal mining operations in the Mavonde region.
Some of the gold miners are Mozambicans, but many have crossed the border from neighbouring Zimbabwe. The illegal gold mining operations have led to frequent clashes between the police and the miners.