Marshall Magirichi Magenge, Jemitias Mapira


The mining industry has always played a key role in Zimbabwe’s economy in pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence eras. Historical records show that by the 13th century AD, there was evidence of gold mining in the country.  During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a lucrative gold and ivory trade was underway between the Portuguese and the Munhumutapa empire (Mpofu, et al., 2009). During the late 19th century, the country was occupied by pioneers of British South African origin (under the protection of the BSAP). Gold mining was the major incentive for these colonizers. Each of the pioneers was promised 3 000 acres of land as well as fifteen gold claims (Mpofu, et al., 2009). According to Bulpin (1968) rumours had been spreading in South Africa that across the Limpopo River gold could be found hanging on tree branches. Though unfounded, such stories added impetus to every white man who dreamt of getting rich quickly to join the pioneers in their migration to the new colony. Since independence in 1980, some sixty minerals have been mined in Zimbabwe including gold, copper, tin, chrome, iron ore, asbestos, coal, lithium, diamonds and platinum (Munowenyu, 1996). To date, mining contributes over 90% to the country’s GDP. However, it is also a major source of income for rural communities that rely on gold panning in order to earn a living. Although the activity is regarded as illegal it contributes significantly to rural livelihoods. Gold panners usually sell their gold to Fidelity Printers and in return get US dollars for each ounce of gold sold. Due to their lack of technology, gold panners cause a lot of environmental damage which is worsened by their use of mercury in their activities. Mercury eventually spills into rivers and streams thereby poisoning water sources and the aquatic life therein. This study exposes the economic activities of small-scale miners in rural Chegutu Ward 22 (Zimbabwe) and their implications on sustainable development.


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small-scale gold mining, livelihoods, environmental challenges, sustainable development, Chegutu, Zimbabwe

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