• May 23, 2024
  • Last Update May 23, 2024 12:57 AM
  • Nairobi

Artisanal Gold Miners ask for special fund

Artisanal Gold Miners ask for special fund

Kakamega,

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

KNA by Moses Wekesa

Artisanal Gold Miners in Ikolomani sub county have asked the government to create a special fund and anchor it in the Gold Processing Bill 2023 to support their mining activities.

Speaking during a public Participation on the Bill, one of the Gold Miners Jimmy Makotsi said the fund will enable them to purchase better equipment and improve on mining Gold.

“We would like to have a special fund created through this law so that artisanal miners can access financing to buy equipment to bring out this gold as long as they are not in direct competition with who discovered the gold first,” he noted.

Makotsi said gold mining is capital intensive yet it contributes to the economy of Kakamega county after agriculture and to the country despite them working under difficult conditions.

“I want to propose that artisanal mining receives more treatment than what has been proposed in the Act. I also propose that the Artisanal Mining Committee be empowered by law and become functional and facilitated with funding to carry out improvements in artisanal mining like training of artisanal miners and mining constructions so that we can mitigate the many accidents that are killing many of our young people,” he added.

Makotsi also asked the national public administration to address the challenges relating to school drop-outs and school attendance as some school going children drop out of school to engage in the sector which has now become lucrative.

“We ask the government to give us more affordable and cheaper ways of processing our gold-ore without having to use mercury which is a dangerous substance affecting land and the health of community members, children being vulnerable and at high risk,” he added.

The Chairman of Council of Elders Kakamega Eliud Mushila said they are on the forefront in protecting resources from the county including gold mining from wastefulness to ensure it benefits residents of the county.

“As elders we have signed an agreement through the National Museums of Kenya with the county of Kakamega to protect resources in Kakamega, gold included. Anyone willing to exploit our resources must pass through us. We collect data through young champions to ensure we monitor every resource for its safety,” he added.

The chairman of the Kakamega Artisanal Mining Committee Patrick Ligami asked the government to support locals with enough funds and modern equipment that will enable them to produce enough quality minerals.

“We have our own resources; God has given us what we can mine for ourselves. We have our sons, daughters with technical expertise, what we lack is the equipment for us to be more effective. Let us go beyond just waiting for royalties, let us be a government that can invest so that we are mining by Kenyans for Kenyans that will ensure that whatever we get will improve our GDP,” he said.

He also challenged the government to be involved in the prospecting of minerals and participate fully in auditing external companies that prospect and mine so that they do not shortchange in terms of royalties.

“On prospecting of minerals, for us to belong to the leagues of other miners like in Russia, Thailand, or people who are at our level like Indonesia, Mongolia and South California. I do not imagine that in those places they are waiting to be given 1% royalties, they are doing their own mining,” he added.

Ligami also decried the many levies imposed on artisanal miners which discourages them from doing their best.

The Member of County Assembly for Idakho East Silas Shienji said that in support of gold mining activities, he has formulated the risk Management Policy to ensure artisanal miners get support from the risks they face during mining activities.

“Because of the challenges we have in mining, I decided to come up with the risk management policy which was undertaken by the Ministry of lands and right now it is before the cabinet for approval. We have already gone through it as a house and we believe it will assist us mostly when we have tragedies in our shafts,” he noted.

According to a Lawyer Kennedy Echesa, the Gold Processing Bill 2023 and amendment to the Mining Act which has been proposed by Ikolomani MP Bernard Shinali will be one of its kind in the Country with Kenya being among the few nations in Africa with such a law to address the plight of artisanal miners.

“The National Assembly has been given the mandate of making a law. The national assembly makes a law to protect all Kenyans. As gold miners there is no law in Kenya that talks about Gold processing, except what is being proposed by Ikolomani MP Shinali,” he noted.

He explained that in Kenya when one goes to court for a matter to be addressed, the first document to be referred to is the constitution.

If the constitution does not address the matter, then reference is made from the Acts of Parliament.

“If there is no Act of parliament on the issue raised, then they proceed to the substance of common law and doctrines of equity.

Substance of Common Law refers to the Britain Colonies-Do they have a law talking on the matter and can it be used or domesticated in Kenya?” he said.

Lawyer Echesa disclosed that gold mining is extensively done in South Africa and can be used for reference on how to address issues of gold.

“If we lack an Act of parliament, our courts will have to move to South Africa to refer to the law that has been in use in South Africa to come and use it in Kenya to solve challenges faced by gold miners. If they will not get it in South Africa under the substance of Common Law, they will refer to the Acts of General Application in England which came in force on 12th of August 1897,” he added.

He says the court can refer back in 12th of August 1897 if there was an act talking about gold, if they will not get there, they will get back to the African Customary Law provided it is not repugnant to justice and morality.

“Kenya will be among the few nations in Africa with a law to support Gold Processing, it means Uganda, South Africa and other nations in Africa will refer to Kenya on matters of Gold Processing if they lack such a law,” he noted.

Ikolomani MP Bernard Shinali asked the government to expedite the construction of a laboratory for testing the quality of gold and a training center to equip gold miners with necessary skills.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Forestry and Mining David Gikaria hailed the Artisanal gold miners and residents of Ikolomani for turning up in large numbers for the public participation forum on the two mining bills presented for amendment the Mining Amendment Bill 2023 and the Gold Processing Bill 2023 and submitting over 6 Memorandums.

He said the government is committed to ensure that artisanal gold miners are empowered with enough skills and better equipment to perform their activities and earn a living while contributing to the economy of the country.

“We have over 970 minerals in Kenya. In Kakamega, we have other types of minerals in larger quantities than gold. I want to encourage you to go to the Ministry of Mining and Blue Economy where you will pay a small fee and you will be told the available minerals, their quality and quantity. We have given the Ministry of Mining and Blue Economy enough funds to implement these programmes,” added the MP.

Courtesy; KNA

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