The government of Kenya has launched a crackdown on illegal mines in Nyanza Region to avert loss of lives occasioned by the uncontrolled activities.
Nyanza Regional Mining Officer Ben Bera confirmed the report and said illegal mining was rampant in the area adding that stern action shall be taken against those involved. The move also follows the recent collapse of Abimbo gold mining site in Siaya County. The crackdown is being carried out by the Department of Mines and Geology.
Ben Bera noted that a number of illegal mines have been closed in the region adding that a team of mining officers was on the ground to trace more sites operating illegally. Most of the illegal sites, he said, engaged in gold mining, limestone mining, basalt and phonolite mining spread across the Nyanza Region.
“Majority of the sites are not licensed and therefore do not comply with the safety procedures and requirements thus posing a risk to the miners,” he said.
Effects of illegal mining
A multi-agency team of mining officers, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other county and national government departments has been constituted to step up surveillance against the vice.
The team, he added, has embarked on sensitising the community on the Mining Act 2016 to ensure that all mining activities in the area are conducted in accordance with the law. Illegal mining, he said, was not only risky to the miners but also disastrous to the environment.
“Some of the adverse effects of illegal mining include noise pollution from blasting and crashing of rocks, water and air pollution due to discharge of mercury, hydrogen cyanides to water channels and the destruction of landscape due to ground vibration from blasting operations,” he said.
Licensed miners, were also being sensitised in order to control dust emission and at the same time rehabilitate abandoned quarries to minimise risks. He challenged Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the area to partner with the department and help sensitise the community.