Women often face gender discrimination at excavation and mine sites, which prevents them from taking on more lucrative activities. Due to this, women tend to work alone rather than in teams with men. By encouraging women miners to work collaboratively with each other, and by encouraging the artisanal mining sector as a whole to challenge gender norms holding women back, women can prosper and take on roles that could earn them higher incomes.
As women continue to make up a large chunk of the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) workforce, there is a pressing need to ensure their quality of life is enhanced. By enhancing gender equity and equality within ASM, the sector can spur social transformations to achieve poverty reduction, inclusive growth, and sustainable development.
In today’s installment of Celebrating Women in Mining, Great Dyke News reporter Jeoffrey Ncube (JN) speaks to Christine Moyo (CN) on her journey from being a civil servant to becoming a full-time miner after investing all her pension in mining.
JN: Can you tell us who is Christine Munyoro?
I’m Christine Munyoro, a government pensioner who has finally decided to be a miner for life.
I’m a Regional Representative for Mash Central in ZMF, a divorcee with 3 girls whom I brought up as a single mother. I’m also a small-scale farmer. I’m also a Fidelity Agent for gold buying.
JN: Can you tell us about your journey into mining so far?
When I started mining in 2012 I thought I was going to be rich within a short period of time. After registering some blocks we started prospecting. We were lucky to find our belt at a depth of 1 metre with a very good sample of ore. We took the ore to the mill, that’s when the disaster started. We got 320 grammes per 11-tonne truck.
A dispute started at that early stage. Someone used his political muscle and said he was the owner of that mine.
From 2012 to 2019 I did not enjoy my life in mining since the dispute was not resolved. My life together with that of my family was not easy.
Since I had exhausted all my savings when we went from the civil court up to Supreme Court with the dispute, it was difficult for me and my family to stay in the city, so we moved to our farm in Bindura where we stayed for 7 years and my life was not easy during that period. Fortunately, the dispute was resolved in 2018.
When we were back in full force, the other syndicate members were men and I was the only lady.
They used to leave the ore which was rich in the pit to process for themselves behind my back and heaped ‘nyerani’ (low grade ore) outside. Most of the time we took our ore to the mill, I almost fainted after we got nothing after milling.
It’s only that I was strong otherwise I should have given up mining. I then decided to take my nephew to be in charge at the mine and everything started going well. I’m now enjoying my fruits so much that I’m no longer taking my ore to the mill. I’m now milling on my own with my hammer mills.
I’m now working with my two girls who are now very strong and have a passion for mining. I’m the overseer though they are also directors. They hold their education diplomas but I told them that they should be miners full time and be their own employers.
My vision now is I want to be a large scale miner who will own big mines in the near future. I don’t want to go back to my old life. I need to expand my operations and employ many people. If I manage to get funding I will get to where I’m aiming at.
JN: What is the present scale of your mining operations and what do you mine?
I’m now a miner who is producing gold unlike what I used to do. I was more like an artisanal miner (gwejeline) but mining now makes sense to me.
JN: What challenges do you face as a woman miner?
As a woman miner, sexual harassment is my major challenge. Even my workers at first thought they could bully me and my two daughters whom I work with until I showed them that I’m their boss and I can fire anyone any time.
Men always want to take advantage, they think that they are the ones who must lead always, they don’t know that women can do it.
JN: What challenges are there in mining in general?
In mining, our major challenges are disputes which are endless. These are caused by surveyors who are not doing their jobs properly. We have disturbances now and again because of the disputes.
We are also facing challenges on the pricing of our quartz because the government hasn’t gazetted a price for gemstones as the market is not open for individuals. MMCZ is responsible for marketing.
Mine accidents are also a challenge in the mining industry. When the Ran Mine disaster occurred in 2020, as a regional representative and also a member of the Provincial Rescue Team, I spent almost a month dedicating half the day at the mine trying to help the rescuing team and the deceased’s relatives. I had to make sure they got food before I went home. So basically those are some of the challenges we face as miners.
JN: How do you balance your role as a miner and mother?
As a divorcee, my role is just to bring food on the table and my daughters take responsibility for most of my family issues. I don’t get worried even if I spend a week at the mine.
JN: How many people are employed at your mines?
I’m employing 30 workers at my gold mine in Mt Darwin and 10 at my clear quartz mine in Guruve
What’s your advice to women who want to venture into mining?
I’m advising those women who want to join this field to be strong, stand firm, mining is easy don’t believe otherwise. Hands on will pay you back. Let God lead you because nothing is impossible through him. Work for your children and don’t allow men to bully you. Don’t give them a chance to take advantage of you. Fight for your rights. Show them women can do it.
Since I exhausted all my civil servant pension when I started my journey into mining, I’m working tirelessly so that it makes sense why I went on early retirement. My family never enjoyed my civil service pension payout because I thought it would bear fruits in mining like what is now happening. Mining is my pension for Life.