BY STAFF REPORTER Chinese gold miner Kunyu Mine has dismissed allegations that there is rampant abuse of workers and disregard for environmental laws at its Mudzi operations in Mashonaland East.
Kunyu Mine was responding to two investigations by The Standard early this year where it was established that tens of workers had approached the National Employment Council (NEC) for the mining industry complaining about unfair dismissals.
Workers at the mine where three workers were crushed to death after two ore wagons fell into an inclined mine shift also complained about alleged unfair labour practices.
The miner was also accused of polluting the nearby rivers by discharging its effluent into surrounding streams.
At the time Kunyu Mine executives ignored requests for comment on the allegations.
When the last story was published, an organisation known as China Africa Economic and Culture Exchange and Research Centre (CAECRC) invited journalists to Kunyu Mine “to report on the currently ongoing issues at the company and the surrounding community.”
CAECRC offered the invited journalists “food, transport and remuneration” in what was largely viewed as an attempt cover-up.
Almost two months after the guided tour, Kunyu Mine management has released a statement describing the investigations as “half-truths and falsehoods.”
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“To set the record straight, Kunyu Mine operates within the confines of local law and should there be any doubts in this regard, law enforcers are free to undertake their duties with our utmost compliance,’’ the mine said in the statement.
It said investigations into the 2020 accident showed that it was “caused by violation of operation procedures by one of the mine workers.”
“Efforts were made to take the injured personnel to the hospital,” the mine said.
“We also conducted a customary function at the place where the accident happened and we have documents confirming payments of support for each family of employees, who lost their lives.
“A total of US$12 012 was used in the aftermath of the accident in hospital and funeral arrangement bills.
“Additionally we have enhanced the safety of our production after the accident in 2020, which has been inspected and approved by the Ministry of Mines.
“Our personal protective clothing has also now been compliant with local regulations with uniforms, helmets and safety shoes being changed periodically.”
On the large scale dismissal of employees, Kunyu Mine said “substantial evidence in the hands of our lawyers shows that all resignations and dismissals were done in a reasonable and legal manner.”
“As an enterprise that currently employs 248 people across departments, it surely is understandable to have faces changing over the years owing to different circumstances,” it added.
“The welfare of our workers is top priority and if we have to separate we do that in a dignified manner.”
It also denied accusations that it was one of the worst polluters of the Rwenya River, saying it recently tested the water in the river for cyanide with the Environmental Management Agency “and the results show that the water is not poisoned.”
Unions said they had filed cases with the NEC, which were taking too long to resolve as they alleged that the Chinese miner was being shielded by the authorities.