Illegal mining of the semi-precious mineral, amethyst is causing extensive land degradation in the Masukwe area of Chikombedzi under Chief Sengwe amid revelations that miners are still going ahead with operations disregarding a prohibition order issued by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).

The semi-precious amethyst mineral is mostly used in the production of jewelry and electronics, with Asian countries also using it for religious purposes.

This has resulted in increased demand of the mineral which has seen an upsurge in illegal mining activities of the rock in Chikombedzi.

While the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development issued eight claims for the mineral, some of the beneficiaries are already on the ground before the required environmental impact assessment plan.

This has raised concern on the extent of environmental damage that has occurred so far due to the illegal mining activities.

In the absence of the owners, ZBC News sought a comment from the workers who were evasive and could not provide satisfactory answers.

“I’m just a worker. We mine and they buy and give us 10 bond per kg,” said one of the workers.

Minister of State Masvingo Province, Ezra Chadzamira said as government, they are concerned with the illegal activities in Chikombedzi, noting that systems will have to be put in place once mining is now being done legally to ensure government does not lose revenue through non-payment of tax by the miners.

There are also claims that some foreign nationals frequent the area to buy the semi-precious mineral, although the actual value per kg could not be ascertained.