Home » Turkana Gold Miners Risk Lives with Explosives, County Warns

Turkana Gold Miners Risk Lives with Explosives, County Warns

County officials inspect a collapsed mining site and issue a stern warning to the miners

by Motoni Olodun

Turkana County officials have expressed concern over the use of explosives and hazardous chemicals at various gold mining sites in the region, saying they pose a threat to human safety and the environment. The county’s chief officer for Minerals and Energy, Triza Amoni, issued a stern warning to the miners on Monday, after inspecting a collapsed mining site at Naduat village.

Amoni said the unregulated use of explosives and banned chemicals such as mercury and cyanide during mining was endangering the lives of the miners and the surrounding communities. She said the county government would take drastic measures against those who violate the safety standards, including revoking their mining permits or banning them from operating in the area.

“We have invested a lot in the mining sector to enhance its productivity and empower the local miners through capacity building and provision of equipment. We expect them to adhere to the safety precautions and also transfer the knowledge to their fellow miners,” she said.

She added that the county was working closely with the national government and other stakeholders to ensure that the mining activities are conducted sustainably and responsibly. She urged the miners to form cooperatives and register their operations with the relevant authorities so that they could benefit from the support and oversight of the county.

The county’s director for Mining, Stanley Loter, said the crackdown on illegal and unscrupulous dealers in the sector had begun, following several complaints from the residents and the miners themselves. He said the misuse of explosives could cause irreversible damage to the environment, expose the people to health risks, and affect the viability of the mining sites.

“We want to promote safe and environmentally friendly mining practices that will benefit the miners and the county at large. We also want to eliminate the middlemen who exploit the miners and deny them their fair share of the proceeds,” he said.

Naduat village is one of the most renowned gold mining sites in Turkana County, attracting miners from major towns such as Lodwar, Kakuma, Lokichoggio, Lokichar, and Kainuk. The village also produces quarry stones that support the construction industry in the region. The mining sector provides direct and indirect employment opportunities to many people in the county, which is otherwise known for its pastoralism and frequent droughts.

However, mining activities have also been marred by accidents, conflicts, and environmental degradation. Several miners have lost their lives or sustained injuries after being trapped in the tunnels or exposed to harmful substances. Some mining sites have also been the scenes of violent clashes between rival groups of miners or between the miners and the security forces.

The county’s assistant chief for Naduat, Andrew Akolom, welcomed the call for compliance with the safety regulations, saying it was in the best interest of the miners and the environment. He said the miners were aware of the risks involved in their work, but they had no alternative source of livelihood.

“We appreciate the efforts of the county government to improve the mining sector and protect us from the dangers. We are ready to cooperate and follow the rules, as long as we are allowed to continue with our work and feed our families,” he said.

During the inspection, the county’s technical team held discussions with the leaders of the Naduat mining site and agreed on the need for joint efforts in enforcing the safety measures. The team also distributed some protective gear and equipment to the miners and promised to conduct regular monitoring and evaluation of the mining activities.

The county government has also initiated plans to restore the areas that have been degraded due to mining, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. The restoration project will involve mapping, reclamation, and rehabilitation of the mining sites, as well as creating awareness and sensitization on environmental conservation.

The county hopes that the mining sector will contribute to its economic development and social transformation, as it pursues its vision of becoming a prosperous and resilient county by 2030. The county also aims to diversify its sources of income and reduce its dependence on relief food and external aid.

Source: Star Worldwide


You may also like

Leave a Comment

The African Miner is the vanguard of the mining industry, delivering world-class insight and news.

Latest Stories

© 2024 The African Miner. All Rights Reserved.