Kenya’s National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) officers are set to enforce gold mining regulations in Kakamega County.
Western Regional Commissioner Mr. Isaiah Nakoru said the government was concerned that illegal mining was still rampant in the area despite the dangers it posed to human life and environment. The regulations is set to ensure artisanal miners conform to the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) of 1999.
“The government intends to gazette all the gold mining sites in Ikolomani, Shinyalu and Khwisero sub counties so that miners are licensed and work in conformity with NEMA regulations. There are more than 8,000 miners who were operating illegally, a situation that has led to loss of lives due to the rudimentary way the mining was being done,” said Nakoru.
According to NEMA Director Mr. Charles Mulila, a team senior officers from the environmental body, are assessing degradation of the environment and challenges facing mining with a view to taking remedial action.
The Regional Commissioner said a committee constituted to oversee gold mining and recommend ways to ensure compliance to EMCA regulations will be reinforced. “We need a multi-sectoral-agency approach so that all stakeholders are brought on board” he added.
Artisanal gold miners also expose themselves to grave health risks since they do not use safety gears such as ear plugs, safety glasses, masks, gloves and gumboots when extracting gold. According to the ministry of petroleum and Mining-Kakamega county has at least 1.31 million ounces of gold deposits along the liranda corridor which is valued at Sh.171.billion. The corridor stretches from Shinyalu to Ikolomani, with part of it being in neighboring Vihiga County.