Harare – A leading gold producer, developer and explorer in southern Africa, Metallon Corporation, has claimed ownership of the gold that was being transported by a private plane that crash-landed in southern Zimbabwe on Tuesday, putting to rest speculation that the mineral was being smuggled out of the troubled southern African country.
Following the plane crash, several Zimbabweans had taken to social media, accusing unnamed senior government officials of having been evaded by luck when they allegedly intended to smuggle the gold out of the country using the private plane. Zimbabwe has huge gold deposits and government critics have in the past accused President Robert Mugabe’s government of illegally externalising the country’s resources.
Mugabe last year announced that his administration could not account for $15bn accrued from the sales and marketing of Marange diamonds, amid confessions by the nonagenarian that corruption was rampant in his government.
Two pilots escaped with minor injuries after a Central Air Traffic Services-operated Cessna 206 aircraft carrying 22kg of gold worth close to a million dollars flipped over and rested inverted in a field in the Kennilworth area of Bubi district in Matabeleland North Province.
Damaged beyond repair
Aviation Safety Net reported that the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
Metallon Corporation Zimbabwe issued a statement claiming ownership of the gold that was reportedly being transported from the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport from its subsidiary How Mine to the capital Harare. The regional mining giant is developing and operating How Mine, Redwing, Shamva and Mazowe underground gold mines as its subsidiaries in Zimbabwe.
“On Tuesday 10 January, 2016, a plane transporting gold bullion on behalf of a private security firm developed a mechanical fault and the crew executed an emergency landing north of Bulawayo. The plane was carrying gold bullion from Bulawayo Mining Company (How Mine) for delivery to Fidelity Printers and Refiners in Harare,” said a statement issued by the company.
The cargo was transported by the Zimbabwean army to Harare, said the statement.
“…A helicopter from the Airforce of Zimbabwe’s Manyame Airbase was on hand to safely transport the cargo onward to Fidelity.”
The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe said the plane’s pilot raised the red flag after noticing that the plane had developed a technical fault soon after taking off from an airport in the southern African country’s second largest city of Bulawayo. Air traffic control reportedly lost contact with the pilot triggering a search of the aircraft. Authorities said loss of engine power caused the plane to crash-land.
Two pilots who were the only people on board were airlifted to the capital where they were treated.