Small-scale gold miners should be regulated to curb environmental and health hazards

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A COUPLE panning for gold at Kadya Alendo in Vubwi district near the Mozambique and Malawi border. - Picture by MACKSON WASAMUNU.
A COUPLE panning for gold at Kadya Alendo in Vubwi district near the Mozambique and Malawi border. – Picture by MACKSON WASAMUNU.

THE EXTRACTIVE Industry Alliance (EITA) in Eastern Province has called on Government to regulate small-scale gold miners to curb environmental and health hazards to communities.

EITA representative in Petauke Ledger Tembo urged Government to enforce stringent laws on small-scale gold miners in Eastern Province.

Speaking at the sixth Zambia Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI), held under the theme ‘Mineral Development for all, Leaving No-one Behind’ last week, Mr Tembo said mining activities have caused destruction and disturbance of ecosystems and habitats in the province.

“The Ministry of Mines and the local administration should consider developing favourable regulations that will include regulatory reforms for small-scale mining,” he said.

He further called on Government to conduct awareness campaigns to educate the miners on how to manage their mining activities.

“It is unfortunate that small-scale mining, which can be carried out as a sustainable activity, is conducted by unskilled people with little knowledge on the environmental and health hazards related to the practice,” he said.

Mr Tembo said mining activities have caused destruction and disturbance of ecosystems and habitats in some areas.

He said unplanned prospecting and application of basic mineral extraction and processing techniques has caused widespread land degradation.

“Effects of mining activities have resulted in destruction of productive grazing and crop lands,” he said.

Mr Tembo also recommended that small-scale miners be compelled to attach an environmental action plan when applying for a licence to establish their business.

He said it is necessary that the environment in the sites where a licensed gold miner operates be inspected officially for purposes of environmental management accreditation before an applicant’s licence is renewed.

Mr Tembo urged Government to consider formulating a national mineral policy that will provide a guiding framework for decision makers in the management of Zambia’s mineral resources.

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