A peek into gold mining in Kenya

March 15, 2016 5:47 pm
A woman bare handedly rubs mercury that coagulated tiny particles of gold in a basin EPA/DAI KUROKAWA
A woman bare handedly rubs mercury that has coagulated into tiny particles of gold in a basin EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

, Although a number of local and international mining firms have been granted gold exploration licenses and have been operating in western Kenya, the country’s gold mining industry is still young and the gold-rich areas of western Kenya remain largely under-explored with thousands of artisanal and small-scale miners.

The recent explorations conducted by the government and private companies are said to have revealed large gold deposits in western Kenya, which could lead to the large-scale commercial mining that could put Kenya on the map of the top gold producers in Africa.

After a day’s work in the gold mines where they are exposed to various risks, from health risks exposed by unsafe use of mercury to the risk of death from the mine collapse, artisanal miners in Migori and other areas in western Kenya earn about three to five US dollars (300-500 Kenya shillings) per day. While the region enjoys low levels of unemployment among the youths, thanks to the mining work, the unregulated nature of the industry leaves men and women, and often young children, working under perilous conditions without safety equipment nor the luxury to afford such items.

According to the Mines and Geology Department at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the gold capacity of Migori alone stands at 34 tonnes per year, that could earn the country some 67 billion Kenya shillings (670 million USD) annually, according to a local report. Some mining experts are optimistic that Kenya could experience the gold rush in the next several years.


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