Black granite mining and the implications
for the development of sustainability in Zimbabwe:
the case of Mutoko communities
Received: 4 December 2012 / Accepted: 12 April 2013 / Published online: 27 April 2013
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013
Abstract Small- and large-scale mining land acquisitions and mining establishments
continue to grow in Zimbabwe, but the question about the development of sustainability
remains problematic. While mining establishments can be regarded as vehicles for
development, the evidence of positive effects in terms of sustainability in this case is weak.
The mining-sustainability nexus is characterized by conﬂicts regarding livelihoods, the
environment, culture, and social relations. The paper argues that local sustainability
challenges generated by mining activities cannot be resolved as long as there is institu-
tionalized exclusion of local communities, hence, aspects such as revision of the current
Mines and Minerals Act, involvement of communities affected by the extraction of granite,
opportunities for skills development and training involving traditional leaders, children,
youth, and women, extending community driven share-ownership schemes to granite
mining and enforcing site remediation should be considered as crucial steps toward the
development of sustainability in the mining sector.
Keywords Mining Development Sustainability Granite Local communities
This paper examines sustainability questions emerging from small-scale mining land
acquisitions and mining operations in Mutoko communities in rural Zimbabwe. Mining
land acquisitions and development can reconﬁgure local economies, authority, and legit-
imacy of different actors and intensify conﬂicts; hence, this research frames such changes
in livelihoods structures and social relations as some of the complex issues related to the
themes of the sustainability discourse. Using Bensimon and Benatar’s (2006) concept of
‘‘development of sustainability,’’ the main question asked in this paper is, ‘‘Is black granite
mining as a form of development developing sustainability?’’
S. Bhatasara (&)
Sociology Department, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. BOX MP 167, Mt Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
Environ Dev Sustain (2013) 15:1527–1541
The past two decades have been characterized by a rise in foreign and local, large- and
small-scale mining land acquisitions in Zimbabwe, and the mining sector has become vital
in the development of the country. The mining sector is one of the sectors which have
contributed immensely in the economic growth of the country (Doroh 2012). The sector
plays an essential role in foreign exchange generation, gross domestic product (GDP),
government revenue, and capital formation (Chenje et al. 1998). For example, in 2009, the
sector earned US $700 million, and this increased to US $2.2 billion in 2011 (Doroh 2012).
Apart from the direct economic beneﬁts of the mining industry to Zimbabwe, the mining
has also been inﬂuential in infrastructural development of the country (Chigonda 2010).
Over 40 minerals are mined in Zimbabwe, and production is dominated by gold, fol-
lowed by asbestos, nickel, chromium, and coal. The dimension stone industry, especially
the extraction of black granite, is expanding rapidly. Zimbabwe’s mining sector has thus
embarked on a growth path as evidenced by positive growth rates across most minerals
(with the exception of granite) (Chamber of Mines 2011). Small- and medium-size mining
have been increasing over the past 4 years because of economic hardships and recurrent
droughts. Currently, the mining sector consists of 40 major mining companies, and it is one
of the major sectors of the economy that still has a large proportion of foreign ownership
However, while commonly presented as development opportunities for national gov-
ernments and local communities, mining has also been named ‘‘the evil sector’’ because
projects repeatedly trigger livelihood shifts, dislocation from ancestral lands and insidious
social, cultural, environmental, and economic changes. By its very nature, the mining
industry, just like the oil and gas industries, leaves behind a ‘‘footprint’’—an environ-
mental, social, and economic impact (World Bank and International Finance Corporation
2002). Mining activities are well known by their deleterious effects on the environment,
above all due to the presence of high concentrations of heavy metals such as copper, zinc,
cadmium, lead, or arsenic that are widely known by their adverse effects on the envi-
ronment and human health (Conesa et al. 2008). Bebbington and Bury (2009), observed
that in lesser developed economies, growth from mining offers the potential to generate
new resources for development, but also creates challenges to sustainability in the regions
in which extraction occurs. At the same time, it is important to clarify that in spite of
experiencing its share of environmental- and health-related problems that adversely impact
human quality-of-life, small-scale mining plays a pivotal role in alleviating poverty in the
developing world and contributes signiﬁcantly to national revenues and foreign exchange
earnings (Hilson 2002).
Sustainability questions arising from small-scale mining land deals and extractive
processes, their implications on livelihoods resilience and processes and ontologies
anchored in land and hills have yet to be fully comprehended. While foreign and local land
acquisitions have fundamentally altered power structures and relationships, and livelihoods
structures in host communities, analysts, and policy makers currently struggle to respond to
these new developments and design appropriate sustainability paradigms or models. As
noted by some scholars such as Hilson (2002), though these important socio-economic
contributions make small-scale mining an indispensable economic activity, there is an
obvious need for improved sustainability in the industry, more speciﬁcally, for operations
to resolve pressing problems, many of which have wide-ranging impacts. The nature and
image of the mining business predispose some stakeholders to distrust mining corporations
when it comes to promoting sustainability (Fonseca 2010).
1528 S. Bhatasara
Azapagic (2004) is of the view that the mining and minerals industry faces some of the
most difﬁcult sustainability challenges of any industrial sector and to guarantee its con-
tinued ‘‘social license’’ to operate, the industry must respond to these challenges by
engaging its many different stakeholders and addressing their sustainability concerns. With
mining continuing to climb up the political priority list at a time of budget deﬁcits and
changing economic and social priorities, many governments are looking at reforms to their
mining codes, grappling with sustainability issues and revisiting their approach to taxation
and royalties (Pricewaterhouse Coopers 2011). Analyzing the implications of granite
mining on the development of sustainability is imperative theoretically and empirically.
This study is useful in developing a sustainability model in the mining sector and in
understanding the shifting development imaginaries in rural Zimbabwe.
2.1 Mining, development and sustainability
There is a paucity of studies on mining and black granite mining focusing on the funda-
mental questions or imperatives of sustainability in Zimbabwe. Labonne (1999) argued that
mining ﬁts into the sustainability puzzle via its economic and social contribution to the
host country’s national economy. Mining can foster sustainable development if the accrued
rent from the depletion of mineral resources is continuously reinvested into other sus-
tainable economic undertakings and in community support services (Labonne 1999:318).
An indicator of sustainable economic development in the mining sector would be the
capacity of a mining venture to ‘‘internalize’’ its own social and environmental costs
without direct or indirect subsidies (Labonne 1999). However, Labonne argues that in a
multi-generational time-frame, mining per se can hardly qualify as sustainable as minerals
are ﬁnite, non-renewable resources.
Hilson (2002) examined in general the positive and negative socio-economic impacts of
small-scale mining in developing countries and outlined some key measures for improving
sustainability in the sector. Hilson’s principal argument is that though small-scale mining is
inherently environmentally destructive and can cause a number of health and safety
complications, it also provides a number of important socio-economic beneﬁts to millions
of people in Africa, Latin America and Asia and contributes signiﬁcantly to national
revenue earnings in many developing countries.
Hilson (2002) concluded that national and regional organizations could accomplish
much in the way of improved sustainability in the small-scale mining industry by legal-
izing small-scale mining and implementing sector-speciﬁc legislation, contributing to
community development, and providing increased economic support and providing
training and educational assistance, and playing an expanded role in the dissemination and
transfer of important technologies.
Some scholars have focused on mining with reference to sociocultural, biophysical, and
economic costs and beneﬁts. Chigonda (2010) using what she termed a ‘‘socio-cultural,
bio-physical and economic approach’’ and questionnaires carried out a cost-beneﬁt analysis
of black granite quarrying in Mutoko District in Zimbabwe. Chigonda highlighted a
number of beneﬁts and costs, among which with are; employment creation, infrastructural
development, and revenue generation bottlenecks for peasant agriculture, encroachment
onto limited prime agricultural land, and the lowering of water tables. What are prob-
lematic with Chigonda’s study are her methodology and her categorization of beneﬁts. A
quantitative survey approach is limited in terms of capturing contextual realities, and it is
not clear how she measured the costs and beneﬁts. Mining establishments such as those for
The case of Mutoko communities 1529
granite quarrying have a lifespan, and the scholar has not considered that especially in
categorizing beneﬁts (Figs. 1,2,3,4).
The nexus between mining and sustainability has been tackled by Bebbington and Bury
(2009), focusing on mining in Peru, analyzed the effects of the extractive industry on
livelihoods and the conditions under which arrangements favoring local sustainability
might emerge. Related to my study is the fact that the scholars linked institutions and
sustainability in the context of mining processes. The scholars highlighted that there are
pressures resulting from institutional conditions that separate the governance of mineral
expansion, water resources, and local development and of relationships of power that
prioritize large-scale investment over livelihoods and environment. They suggested that
when resource-based growth precedes institutional innovation, serious sustainability
problems will emerge.
2.2 Scope and conceptual framework
In relation to black granite mining, this paper examines the implications of the mining
processes on ‘‘development of sustainability.’’ This paper is based on a Social Impact
Assessment undertaken through a participatory research process in Mutoko communities.
Akpofure and Ojile (2004) alluded to the view that the past, local communities have
apparently been marginalized in Social Impact Assessments (SIAs) of mining projects or
activities that affect them or have faced obstacles in participating effectively and in having
their perspectives accepted as legitimate.
To put this paper into perspective, the concept of ‘‘development of sustainability’’ by
Bensimon and Benatar (2006) was employed.
This concept is different from sustainable
Fig. 1 Mutoko district. Source Adapted from Freeman (1994)
The authors call this a ‘new metaphor for development’.
1530 S. Bhatasara
development which says sustainable development is development that meets the needs of
the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
(The Brundtland Report, WCED 1987). Diesndorf (2000) said that sustainable
Fig. 2 Study site. Source Adapted from Freeman (1994)
Fig. 3 Gurure site
The case of Mutoko communities 1531
development comprises types of economic and social development which protect and
enhance the natural environment and social equity. Unlike other scholars, Bensimon and
Benatar (2006: 67) say ‘‘sustainable development means managing growth.’’
Bensimon and Benatar (2006) argue for a new metaphor that develops sustainability
rather than to sustain development which the author has adapted for this paper. Beminson
and Benatar go on to develop a list of indices of development that are required to develop
sustainability including involving communities in decision-making process, participatory
democracy and others.
However, their list of indices is not exhaustive; hence, the author
borrows their framework to deﬁne development of sustainability in relation to what is
happening to livelihoods, the environment, and social relations, culture, and communities-
miners conﬂicts. Looking at the various implications of black granite mining in Mutoko
communities, one can then argue on whether this type of development is developing
sustainability or not. The paper will not dwell on the aspect of attribution, that is, if it is
certain that mining land acquisition and development are having impacts, but identiﬁable
issues emerging from the data collection process.
2.3 Study area
Mutoko is located in the northeastern part of Zimbabwe, lies within Mashonaland East
Province, and shares boundaries with the Murewa, Mudzi, and Nyanga Districts. The
population is estimated at 164,033 people with annual growth rates of 3 % per annum.
About 15.5 % of the population is under 4 years, 33.7 % between 5 and 14 years and
50.8 % above 15 years. About 53 % of the population is females (Mika 2010). In terms of
population distribution, 69 % live in communal areas, 23.3 % in resettlement areas, 4.3 %
in the service center (the growth point) and 3.4 % in the small-scale commercial farms.
The population density is highest at the service center at 198 people per square kilo-
meter, followed by communal lands at 46, resettlement at 23 and small commercial farms
Fig. 4 Demolished hill and granite blocks
For the list of indices, see page Bensimon and Benatar (2006)pp 73.
1532 S. Bhatasara
at 10. The rural–urban migration is high as people seek employment in the capital city of
Harare, 120 kilometers away. The incidence of single-parent-headed homes is increasing
due to the incidence of the HIV/Aids pandemic (Mika 2010).
The major part of Mutoko communal land falls within Natural Region IV, with a small
part in the south falling within Natural Region III. Precipitation occurs mainly over the
5 months November to March, followed by a 7 months dry season. Big yearly differences
in rainfall or rainfall variability have occurred, for example, during the 1982–1984 period,
and Mutoko was seriously hit by drought, while in 1985, rainfall exceeded the yearly
average (total average for 1985 was 900 mm) as noted by (Mika 2010).
Mutoko spans over 428,916 hectares of land. About 50 % of the land is communal and
the rest a mixture of resettlement, small-scale and commercial farming. One lakh and forty-
nine thousand hectares have been surveyed and classiﬁed as follows: 54,000 hectares of
arable land, 58,000 hectares of summer grazing and 37,000 hectares of waste land (bare
rock, areas of shallow rocky soils) (Mbiba 1999). Unclassiﬁed land has over the years
reserved for resettlement of newcomers in the south of the district. It has been documented
that over the years, local communities have adapted their lives to conditions in the area.
Besides raising livestock and subsistence agriculture, they have diversiﬁed into cotton
production and market gardening.
Before the advent of black granite extraction, Mutoko was well known in economic
terms for its fruit and vegetable produce such as mango, guava, tomatoes, and cabbages
which are marketed both in the district and the capital city. The springs and water from the
mountains have been fundamental to the economic survival of communal people in the
area, and the land, especially the mountains, provides crucial cultural domains where the
dead are buried, and where wildlife and livestock graze. Hills form repositories of cultural
artifacts; caves, for example, are burial places for people such as chiefs (Mbiba 1999).
Prior to 1991, the granite rock was mined just as a resource and not a mineral (Mbiba
1999). Mutoko Rural District Council, the local authority, controlled the black granite
mining activities and revenues. The local authority was responsible for allocating
extraction licenses and collecting mining levies and provided a framework for negotiations
between local communities and institutions on one hand and quarry operators on the other.
When local land negotiations were still possible, royalties collected by the council were
used to upgrade projects and services in the district, for example, Mutoko High School and
Takabudirira Training Center (Mbiba 1999).
Increasing demand for black granite, particularly in the construction industry, has led to
the development of extensive quarrying operations in Mutoko district, and the establishment
and expansion of black granite quarrying activities in Mutoko have transformed the district
into an important mining area of the country (Chigonda 2010). The government decided to
increase its control of revenue from granite extraction by listing black granite as a mineral
under the Mines and Minerals Act (1990), and this has reconﬁgured the development terrain
in the district and invoked sustainability questions. In terms of socio-economic development,
Mutoko District was ranked among the ten least developed districts in Zimbabwe inspite of
the proliferation of granite mining (Chazireni 2003). Currently, there are 11 mining com-
panies extracting black granite in Mutoko, of these, 2 are foreign owned (Mtisi et al. 2011).
The impacts of black granite mining have been subject to debates and some scholarly anal-
ysis; however, no comprehensive studies employing the sustainability framework have been
produced. In this regard, there is a strong justiﬁcation to examine the synergies between black
granite mining, development and sustainability in the area.
This paper is based on the SIA carried out in February–March 2012. The mine is located
at Gurure site, approximately 27 km to the northwestern side of Mutoko district service
The case of Mutoko communities 1533
center. The mining establishment is located in Gurure village, with Kadiki village on the
northwestern side, and these two villages are in Charehwa ward. The bulk of the granite
material, 95 %, is exported to countries such as Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Argentina and
Singapore and 5 % locally. Extraction is essentially done to produce granite blocks of
suitable size for cutting into various products. Mining is done through several methods,
which are as follows: detonation of powder explosives, use of diamond wire, and use of
fractage. These methods include ﬁrst clearing the vegetation and moving soil and using
explosives and diamond wire to blast and dismantle the rocks.
The data collection process was essentially qualitative and participatory in nature. Social
Impact Assessment is an operation, management and monitoring tool used to consider the
social impacts of mining activities on the surrounding socio-economic environment. It was
undertaken using a multi-method and multi-instrument approach. The mine, communities
and key informants were selected using concentration, convenience, and purposive sam-
pling techniques. In Gurure and Kadiki, several mining establishments are currently
operational, and the area is also accessible by gravel road. Key informants, mainly gov-
ernment ofﬁcials and traditional leaders, were purposively selected because their work
interacts with the mining activities in terms of administration, policies and regulations.
Key informant interviews, observation and focus group discussions (FGDs) were
undertaken to collect data. This was appropriate in order to capture in-depth perceptions,
views and lived experiences from various stakeholders. Data were analyzed and presented
using a thematic approach. Interview, observation and FGD guides were used as tools in
collecting the data.
Key informant interviews were conducted with 15 stakeholders. Seven stakeholders
were from various government departments located at Mutoko center which are the district
administrator, chief executive ofﬁcer of the Rural District Council, deputy head of the
Agricultural Research and Extension ofﬁce, the district forestry extension ofﬁcer, land
technician, district water technician and head of Agricultural Research and Extension.
Business owners at Gurure shopping center were interviewed so as the Zimbabwe Republic
Police ofﬁcer in charge for Mutoko, the chief of the area in which the companies are
operating and heads of households in Gurure 1 village, located within two hundred meters
from the mining claim. The government departments chosen were of critical relevance to
the Social Impact Assessment since their activities interact with the mining activities.
Focus group discussions were conducted with village members surrounding the mining
claim. The composition of the FGDs participants included the councilor of the area,
headman, kraal heads and ordinary village members, members of the Zimbabwe Republic
police, the headmaster of Gurure secondary school, and chairperson of Gurure secondary
school. Observation was undertaken through transect walks within the mining operations
and the surroundings to capture how the extraction is taking place and to document the
changes taking place as a result of the mining operations.
4 Results and discussion
The problematic issue in this paper is the link between mining land acquisition and black
granite extraction and the development of sustainability in Mutoko communal areas under
1534 S. Bhatasara
the current black granite mining regime and the supremacy of the Mines and Minerals Act
(Chapter 21:05). The Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05) has no provisions for
community beneﬁts and participation in mining, it does not clearly specify that mining
companies should have a corporate social responsibility (CSR), there is no clause that
looks at transparency and accountability in the mining sector including how mining rev-
enue is to be used, and there is limited provision on environmental protection to the areas
where mining will be taking place (Muranda 2012). At the same time, the indigenization
and empowerment discourses currently being implemented in the country under the
Indigenization and Empowerment Act (Chapter 14:33) thus far have been applied to large-
scale miners leaving communities in which small-scale black granite miners operate
It is not very clear how the indigenization legislation for the mining sector in
its current form will lead to broad-based economic empowerment of the country’s citizens
particularly those communities living in areas which are rich in mineral resources (Doroh
2012). The implications discussed below bring into play sustainability questions which are
consistent with the themes detailed in sustainability discourse or sustainability science as
well as other researches on mining and sustainability.
4.1 Livelihoods and the environment
In these communities, livelihoods are based primarily on access to natural resources
including land and water. Based on access to these natural resources, the communities
engage in diverse agricultural, livestock, and small-market activities. The implications on
livelihoods and the environment of black granite mining in the area under study have many
facets, most of them long term. The mining of black granite has contributed to the dramatic
and complex transformations of resources that communities have access to.The destruction
of productive farming land and the displacement of existing land uses such as gardening
and livestock pastures is leading to a number of cumulative problems. The land acquisition
has resulted in the ‘‘enclosure of commons,’’ that is, land for constructing water wells,
gardens and land for pastures has been incorporated in the mining claim. There is also
uncertainty among the community members on where exactly the mining claim boundaries
are, resulting in some voicing concerns of land tenure security. According to United
Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2011), displacement and forced eviction or re-
location are common features of mining operations and mining activities, including waste
disposal sites, compete for space with other land uses such as farming, which can easily
become a source of tension among the mine, farmers, and local communities. Thus, in this
study, sustainability is being threatened because of the conﬂicting mine-based versus agro-
Similarly, Bury (2005) noticed Peru’s new neoliberal mining political economy is
transforming the geographies of land tenure and livelihoods in Cajamarca. Transnational
mining operations are accelerating the transformation of land tenure institutions from
communally managed, or informally negotiated, to private ownership and signiﬁcantly
affecting the vertical distribution of land-use patterns leading to a rezoning of household
land-use activities (Bury 2004,2005). Livelihoods are being transformed as household
access to economic, human, natural, and social resources is rapidly changing (Bury 2004,
Indigenization and empowerment discourses currently being popularized in the country refer to a number
of issues among them ownership of local industries (including mining) by blacks, workers having shares in
companies and Zimbabweans occupying higher positions in companies and industries. However, these are
The case of Mutoko communities 1535
2005). As noted by Bridge (2004) stretching from mine to market, production chain binds
mineral-rich regions into a network of market exchange that can drive changes in local
land values and transform existing land use; consequently, these transformative capacities
of mining raise questions about where and how resources will be accessed, mineral rev-
enues distributed, and processing wastes disposed. As a related example, Hyndman (2001)
noted that the arrival of large-scale mining in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea
during the 1970s represents an historical hinge point between subsistence and capitalist
relations, fundamentally changing the way traditional land users in Melanesia related with
the wider economy.
Bridge (2002) also argues that mining activities often contribute to a ‘‘shufﬂing in the
socio-spatial distribution of rights to use land’’ and a ‘‘revalorization’’ of land use. In
Africa, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2011) noted that a number of
socio-economic impacts of mining in Africa such as, displacement of populations and
resulting disruption of livelihoods, increased poverty, increased internal economic
inequalities, and economic dependency as local economic activity are reorganized to meet
the needs of the mine, leaving the community vulnerable to a typical ‘‘boom and bust’’
economy, especially when the mine closes down or experiences reduced proﬁtability as a
result of low commodity prices.
In terms of employment generation, although the mine has a signiﬁcant number of
‘‘local’’ workers, it has failed to grasp the communities’ deﬁnitions of locality, and it has a
distorted concept of locality. To the immediate villagers (from Kadiki and Gurure), the
employment of local youths means employing youths from Gurure and Kadiki villages not
from other villages in the ward or district. To this end, villagers see no beneﬁts in terms of
employment. This raises issues of equity in the sustainability debate pertaining to new
forms exclusion and reproduction of economic hierarchies.
At the same time, environmental sustainability is under threat. The formation of the
Environmental Management Agency (EMA), which has sanctioned environmental impact
assessments by mining companies as mandatory, has been welcomed by the communities,
but they are yet to see how the agency will protect their environment form black granite
miners. At the moment, environmental sustainability is under threat from quarry extraction
itself as well as other developments related to the mining operations. For example, the
quarry extraction process is destroying hills, causing blasting tremors which are affecting
near by buildings (houses and grocery shops), generating noises and dust and weakening
soils. Some of the problems are irreversible, long term, and have cumulative effects that
are not highly regarded as at the moment. It is clear that there is a direct link among
environmental impacts, human rights violations and obstacles to sustainable development
in mining (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa 2011).
Black granite mining is generating what can be termed ‘‘visual intrusions.’’
leading to a dramatic modiﬁcation of the physical landscape in the area. These are being
generated by the moving and dumping of soil, rubbles and large black granite boulders and
unsustainable clearing of the vegetation to pave way for the quarry extraction and, to
construct roads resulting in serious deforestation. In Cartagena–La Unio
´n Mining District
(Spain), Conesa et al. (2008) observed that due to the high quantities of wastes in the
waterstreams of the Sierra, occasionally ﬂooding spreads the wastes to croplands and
shores. In Peru, Cajamara region, Bury (2005) highlighted that cyanide heap-leaching
operations have led to a dramatic shift of landcover patterns and a widespread alteration of
Visual intrusions are a term coined by Bridge (2004) to refer to physical changes to the landscape that
occur as result of extraction, pp 209.
1536 S. Bhatasara
environmental processes in the region. In Africa, United Nations Environment Programme
(2008) highlighted some related problems in Africa such as the widespread air, soil, and
water pollution in the Zambian copper belt from ‘‘digging, pumping and disposal of large
volumes of waste water, and smelting operations that emit sulfur dioxide and the problems
created by mining in South Africa, including acid mine drainage and the land area covered
by mining waste.’’ As Bridge (2004) argued ‘‘resource extraction is a double-edged sword;
it holds the promise of wealth sufﬁcient to sever a society from the constraints of nature,
but such liberation is only won through environmental and social change.’’
There are also other implications on the environment which are not deﬁned but are of
essence in terms of maintaining environmental sustainability such as the general degra-
dation of the natural features of the environment and disturbances to wild animals. The
destruction of the wild animals’ habitat is resulting in them encroaching into the human
habitat, for example, snakes which reside in hills that are dismembered for granite. This
case not only shows the problems associated in according priority to what constitutes
environmental problems by mining companies, but also it represents the complexity of
limited environmental policy space and policy enforcement and relationships of power.
This is because the communities are in a quagmire regarding where they stand in envi-
ronmental regulation, considering that under the Traditional Leaders Act, traditional
leaders have some form of authority in environmental management, and on the other hand,
the Mine and Minerals Act supersedes their authority in regulating mining-related
4.2 Social and cultural dynamics
The development of socio-cultural sustainability in the area deserves an analytical
inspection. The implications of mining have gone beyond the social impacts such as
worker safety to questions of community stability, cultural integrity, and indigenous rights
(Bridge 2004). Socially and culturally degenerative dynamics associated with the mining
establishment can be extrapolated from the data. Social conﬂicts resulting from young girls
having relations with mine workers were cited as one problematic issue. The villagers
raised sentiments that suggest that there is an exploitative relationship as mine workers
have money to lure young and vulnerable girls. Another interesting dimension that was
raised, that has been linked to HIV and AIDS, is the implications of tough mine work on
male workers and sexuality. It has emerged; particularly in FGDs that mine work weakens
men such that their virility and sexual prowess is undermined thereby making men unable
to satisfy their women, who can then seek other sexual outlets.
Granite hills are cultural and moral landscapes or geographies. Cultural entitlement to
sacred hills has been reconﬁgured and is now restricted. Unfortunately, mining concessions
are not framed such that local entitlements are safeguarded. There was convergence among
the community members in the FGDs that the mining operations are disturbing sacred
areas in the hills and local heritage enshrined in the forests and hills. Some cases of old
graves in the hills being exposed were cited. Borrowing from Bridge (2002), the granite
extractive processes, by dismembering the hills and exposing graves, are leading to the
‘‘dis-spiriting’’ of the hills.
Essentially, miners are regarded as foreigners in terms of their
cultures; hence, there is unwanted cultural inﬁltration and pollution.
Bridge, pp 243, is of the view that the technologies and rationalities of mining intrude to produce a ‘‘dis-
spirit of place,’’ a set of physical and mental changes that are interpreted as a fall from grace.
The case of Mutoko communities 1537
4.3 Health and safety
The health and sustainability nexus has also been realized in this study. Health and safety
problems range from over exposure to dust, excessive vibration and noise to cracking
buildings, blasts, and open pits. Some of the problems include malaria spread by mos-
quitoes that often breed in abandoned pits as well as HIV and AIDS. The prevalence of sex
work was linked to some female sex clients frequenting the place from other areas and the
system of bringing in ‘‘foreign’’ workers. Sex work has been linked to the high prevalence
of HIV and AIDS in the area. Health problems such as malaria have been exacerbated by
poor access to health services (including unavailability of drugs and long distances to
These ﬁndings are also consistent with what has been observed in South Africa. Some
studies highlight that to HIVand AIDS are the top mining hazards, particularly in South
Africa where the combination of widespread poverty and the system of migrant mine labor
that developed under apartheid established social conditions conducive to the rapid
transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (Engineering Mining Journal 1995). World
Bank (2004) estimated that 20 % of coal miners and 30 % of gold miners in South Africa
are HIV positive (prevalence rates 17 % higher than in the base population), and pro-
ductivity losses from the disease are estimated around 20 %.
4.4 Development projects
Development projects are being implemented at best in token fashion and at worst not
implemented at all in this case. These are not sustainable; neither do they constitute
meaningful development. The situation is complicated by the fact that the communities
have no legal standing or rights to deﬁne or negotiate what they mean and require as
development or rights to demand part of the revenue. For example, it has been reported that
in 2009, for example, Mutoko district produced about 121 000 metric tones of black granite
worth US $12.1 million, and yet, the mines were only prepared to pay a paltry US $18,400
to the District Council in levies (Mtisi et al. 2011).
Competing discourses of development have emerged in view of some projects that have
been initiated by the black granite miners. From the FGDs and interviews, it emerged that
so far, the mining company has embarked on building a clinic at Gurure (not completed
yet), assisting in cash and kind at national events like heroes and independence celebra-
tions as well as traditional events, grading and maintenance of gravel roads, assisting local
schools and villagers with transport, provision of building material for a class room con-
struction, provision of diesel for school pupils during sports events and constructing
temporary roads. This paper asserts that these projects are more like ‘‘short-term events’’
that do not result in the development of sustainability to enable communities to be self-
reliant, deﬁning the long-term development, they want and ensuring livelihoods resilience.
The questions that also emerged are on how these so-called development projects can be
sustained over time as sustainability is future oriented and whose responsibility it is.
The construction of roads has been regarded as a way to ensure the smooth transpor-
tation of black granite stones. This view is supported by the fact that the mining companies
have been operating in the area for a number of years, but they have not constructed
permanent tarred roads which can beneﬁt communities in future when the mining com-
panies are long gone. Since the communities are also farmers, access to the markets is
vital; therefore; good roads will ensure they sustain their agro-based livelihoods. Human
infrastructure has also been neglected. Infrastructure is not only the obvious rail, port, road,
1538 S. Bhatasara
and power networks, but also the human infrastructure such as medical health care and
community support programs (Pricewaterhouse Coopers 2011).
4.5 Communities–miners relations
The miners–communities interface in Mutoko is a site of struggle. The key informants and
stakeholders in the FGD indicated that they have no say in the allocation of mining
concessions or licenses. This scenario where mining concessions are given by the central
government without taking into consideration the local context of development has also
been witnessed in Peru by Bebbington and Bury (2009). According to Bebbington and
Bury (2009), there has been no requirement that concessions are aligned with local gov-
ernment plans for development, land use, ecological zoning, or water management nor has
there been consultation with local populations before the granting of concessions, even
though Peru is signatory to the International Labor Organization Convention 169, which
stipulates the right of indigenous people to prior consultation and to free, prior, and
informed consent before any relocation from their lands.
There is institutionalized exclusion of local communities as they do the not inﬂuence
decisions over land uses, and the way black granite mining concessions are granted by the
central government. It emerged that the company simply produced its mining license, it
obtained from the Ministry of Mining and followed the expected protocols when it started
mining operations. The protocols include informing the local government ofﬁcials and
traditional leadership. The problems threatening miners–communities relations are related
to the resumption of operations, communities moral and legal rights, the failure to address
negative impacts emerging from the mining establishment, enclosure of land reserved for
communal activities (pastures and gardens), exposing sacred symbols during quarry
extraction in the hills and the boundaries of the claim. In the case of this study, the situation
is complicated by the fact that in the Minerals and Mining Amendment Bill of 2007, rights
of the community are not speciﬁed in terms of compensation in cases where communities
have been displaced when minerals are discovered in their area (Muranda 2012).
Authority, rights and legitimacy issues have been generated regarding what power local
leadership has over the company’s activities and whether the communities’ requests and
expectations from the mining company are legitimate. Other scholars such as Bridge
(2004) are of the view that core component of the new reality of mineral development is
that many communities now reject technical and managerial deﬁnitions of mineral
extraction as a politically neutral process of economic development, producing social and
environmental side effects that can be mitigated. In view of the fact that the authority of
local leaders is being threatened, the local monitoring and enforcement framework for
environmental regulation are not clearly deﬁned. Some scholars argue that because taxes
and royalty payments on mineral extraction generate revenue for national governments, the
state frequently shares the economic interests of mining ﬁrms who want access to national
mineral resources. These interests can be sufﬁciently powerful to resist other pressures on
the state (for example, resource conservation, non mining land uses, or environmental
protection) (Bridge 2004).
The communities in Mutoko have suspicions and questions about the fact that there is
no law that refers to the rights of communities to claim development projects and to claim
part of the proceeds from the sale of granite products. Sustainability issues have also
emerged from questions over black granite mining as form of land use. Communities
acknowledge that black granite mining can be a lucrative economic enterprise, but the
location of the mining claim in the midst of agricultural, pastoral, and scared land has
The case of Mutoko communities 1539
dislocated and disturbed their livelihoods and cultural integrity. Communities cannot claim
compensation for lost land be it pastures or farming because they do not own the land; the
land is owned by the state in terms of the Communal Lands Act (Chapter 20:04). All
communal land is vested in the President, and it is managed on his behalf by Rural District
Council (Mtisi et al. 2011).
This paper has shown that when mining land acquisitions and black granite extraction
precede community perspectives on development, sustainability is threatened. Black
granite miners, using an undeﬁned or distorted concept of development, are not fostering
sustainability enhancing conditions in their mining operations. The paper also demon-
strates the pressures that black granite mining expansion has placed on the environment,
livelihoods, local authority, cultural dynamics, and social relationships in Mutoko com-
munities. This study has also revealed that there are no sustainability models in the mining
sector in Zimbabwe. For this reason, deﬁning and negotiating development by local
communities remain some of the main areas of contestation, creating tension between local
communities and mining companies. Aspects such as revision of the current Mines and
Minerals Act, involvement of communities affected by the extraction of granite, oppor-
tunities for skills development and training involving traditional leaders, children, youth
and women, extending community driven share-ownership schemes to granite mining and
enforcing site remediation must be considered as crucial steps toward the development of
sustainability in the mining sector in the country.
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