Artisanal and small-scale gold miners in different parts of Malawi have defied a government order to halt operations, which also have been associated with a myriad of health, social and environmental problems.
According to a local publication, Mining & Trade Review, the government’s gag came after three Lilongwe women lost their lives along Nanthenje River banks following the collapse of the land where the three were extracting alluvial gold dust as well as rhodolite.
In a strongly worded media release to local publications, the Ministry of Natural Resources Energy and Mining, issued a stern warning to individuals engaged in illegal mining to stop the ‘malpractice’ or face eviction and prosecution in accordance with the laws of Malawi.
“The Ministry would like to inform the public that exploration, mining, and trading of mineral products without valid license issued by the Ministry is punishable offence as stipulated in the Mines and Minerals Act (1981),” said Principal Secretary for the Ministry, Patrick Matanda, in the statement.
In addition, he quoted the government’s Forest Act (1997) which prohibits exploration, mining, settlement and cutting down of trees in forest reserves without a licence from the Forestry Department, saying any activity currently happening in protected areas such as Namizimu Forest Reserve was against the law.
The Ministry had given miners until July 20, 2018 as the deadline to stop the activities and urged the public to report any suspected illegal mining practices to the Ministry’s headquarters, Departments of Mines, Forestry and Geological Survey, District Commissioner’s offices and law enforcing agents.
However, according to the Mining & Trade Review, despite the threats from the government, the miners are still illegally mining minerals, which have attracted buyers from different countries including Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Illegal mining started in Nanthenje a few months ago but has been happening unabated for some time in various areas. Gold panning is mainly taking place in Nathenje River in Lilongwe, and a number of rivers in Makanjira including in Namizimu Forest Reserve in Mangochi.
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