At least 20 head of cattle have died of suspected cyanide poisoning in Mashonaland West Province in a development attributed to improper handling of the dangerous substance’s residue.The deaths occurred since the beginning of the rainy season, which has resulted in the existing residue management infrastructure giving in and discharging into the environment.
In the first incident, which occurred on December 6, seven cattle died in Zvimba from cyanide poisoning. Investigations so far show that a pump failed due to excess rains, resulting in residue overflowing out of a mill confinement into the environment and cattle came into contact with the contaminated vegetation, resulting in death.
Another 12 cattle belonging to three different farmers also died due to cyanide poisoning at Eiffel Gold Mine in Kadoma after drinking waste water suspected to be contaminated with residual cyanide. The incident, which occurred on December 18, shows that excessive rains destroyed overflow control walls at the mine, resulting in storm water overflowing outside the mine fence into the environment. Breaches of environmental laws were confirmed and protection orders were issued by the Environmental Management Agency.