Efforts to save a dozen artisanal miners trapped underground at Redwing Mine in Penhalonga Thursday hit a snag with rescue teams reportedly making several unsuccessful attempts to bring the miners to safety.

In a statement Thursday, Metallon Corporation, owners of the gold mine, confirmed the disaster but placed the number of those trapped at 11, instead of the 15 initially reported by local media on Thursday.

“Metallon Corporation regrets to advise of an accident involving artisanal miners working in small-scale mining pits in claims around Redwing Mine,” said the miner.

“The incident occurred in the early hours of Thursday, 4 January 2024. The mine’s rescue team was mobilised and immediately commenced rescue operations. Early assessments are that 11 miners are trapped.

“The team has made several rescue attempts. However, the ground remains unstable, rendering rescue operations unsafe.

“Our teams are diligently assessing ground conditions to make sure that rescue operations proceed safely as soon as possible.”

The gold miner said the disaster could have been a result of earth tremors.

Metallon also appeared to be blaming the disaster on the chaotic activities by Zanu PF Mabvuku-Tafara MP, Pedzisai Scott Sakupwanya’s Better Brands Mining Company which now controls the gold mine.

“Redwing Mine has historically operated as a large-scale mine, utilising main shafts. When the mine was placed under corporate rescue in 2020, artisanal mining was introduced on a wide scale. This incident occurred in one of the artisanal mining pits,” said the miner.

The troubled Metallon Gold subsidiary was annexed by Sakupwanya and his company in 2019 after some workers and creditors filed a joint application for corporate rescue after it had run into financial problems which continued to threaten its viability.

The mine was later placed under corporate rescue but won an appeal through the Supreme Court.

But that did not stop the MP from taking over the mine and turning into an artisanal mining venture where thousands of youths with some still in their teen ages burrow into earth using picks and shovels every day to pan for the precious mineral of behalf of Better Brands.

Sakupwanya has reaped hefty profits from the condemned venture although this has come at a cost to human life.

According to NGOs closely monitoring the situation, over 100 artisanal miners have died in the shafts since the mine seizure by Sakupwanya.