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Zimbabwe detains over 16000 illegal miners
Recovers 3.2 kg of gold and 4,876 diamonds
By: Diamond World News Service
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Dec 29 2006 12:00AM
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Reference: 689  

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Zimbabwean police launched a major offensive against tens of thousands of illegal gold and diamond miners across the country, arresting 16,290 people over a three-week period, according to reports.
President Robert Mugabe said the campaign was necessary to curb crime and the destruction of forests.

The operation, codenamed Chikorokoza Chapera (The End of Illegal Gold Dealings), recovered 3.2 kg of gold, 524,000 kg of gold ore and 4,876 pieces of diamonds. Police burnt the temporary homes used by the miners and many suspects were arrested at border posts, caught trying to smuggle the minerals to neighbouring countries

Many people are thought to have been pushed into illegal mining following the collapse of the agricultural sector – previously the country’s largest employer. Zimbabwe’s economic woes also include an unemployment rate of above 80 per cent, a soaring inflation rate of over 1,000 per cent, a shortage of fuel and foreign currency and increasing levels of poverty.

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