Kenya: Mining Activities Halted By Heavy Rains in Kakamega

3 December 2019

The government has temporarily stopped mining activities in Kakamega indefinitely to avert accidents during this rainy season.

Officials said the ongoing heavy rains could lead to collapse of soils in the mining pits.

Chiefs and their assistants Ikolomani Constituency have been instructed to ensure the miners do not enter the pits to avoid calamities.

Kakamega County Commissioner Pauline Dola asked the administrators to ensure residents complied with the directive.

STOP WORK

Kakamega South Sub-County police boss Joseph Chesire said on Tuesday that police were working closely with chiefs to monitor the situation.

"We visited several mining sites in Ikolomani and asked miners to stop working until the rains have subsided," said Mr Chesire.

Ikolomani Constituency is considered the heart of mining activities in Kakamega County. Villagers usually flock the mines abandoned by the colonial administration in the 1930s to prospect for gold.

A frenzy of mining activities has been reported in Savane, Shiveye, Lirembe, Isulu Shisere and Iguhu villages.

"We are disadvantaged because we lack the sophisticated equipment to detect the presence of gold and other minerals in the soils. But we keep digging the tunnels and risking our lives in the hope that we shall stumble on some gold deposits," said one of the miners affected by the ban on mining activities.

He asked the county government to support the groups to buy equipment for drilling and draining water from the pits.

Several villagers have lost their lives in the past after the mines collapsed on them as they dug the tunnels while others suffered health complications after inhaling poisonous gases in the depth of the mines.

The search for gold in the region intensified two years ago after the reported discovery of gold heightened expectation and sparked off excitement in villages in 2017.

The discovery of 1.31 million ounces of inferred gold resource on the Lirhanda Corridor drove groups of the artisanal miners into a frenzy as they struggle to eke out a living. Although the discovery was done by the Acacia Mining Company, villagers redoubled their efforts in search for gold in homes, rivers beds and abandoned mines.

The estimated value of the gold was then estimated at Sh169 billion but the firm said it could take up to three years to carry out further survey and establish whether the venture was economically viable.

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