A report presented revealed the existence of a strong environmental impact, the forced displacement of miners and a worrying deterioration in health conditions.
Last Friday, February 14, the city of Pemba hosted the 1st Provincial Forum on Artisanal Mining and Sustainable Rural Development. The event was organized by medicusmundi, Centro Terra Viva and Aliança por la Solidaridad, within the scope of the implementation of the projects “Artisanal Mining: Environmental and cultural rights in Cabo Delgado” and “Reduction of the negative impact of artisanal mining on individual, community and environmental health”, that take place in the districts of Ancuabe, Montepuez and Namuno.
This forum aimed to provide an open space for sharing of knowledge and debate of common interest matters, on mining and development in the province of Cabo Delgado. It counted with the participation of different public institutions (DPREME, NIOP, DPS, DPTADER, INE, District Administrations), civil society (including AMA – ‘Environmental Association’ - and other organizations integrated in GTRNA – ‘Thematic Group of Natural Resources and Environment’), artisanal miners and the media that, together, reflected on some concrete proposals for action.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of the Preliminary Report resulting from a survey conducted in the aforementioned districts and whose main objective was to map the mines and to understand the miners' living conditions, as well as the environmental damage caused by artisanal mining. The study included interviews with people linked to mining (including miners' associations) and local authorities. In addition to the identification of new mining sites, this research confirmed the existence of a strong environmental impact in the areas of exploration, such as deforestation and diversion of rivers, especially in areas concessioned to companies. The conclusions also warn for the forced displacement of miners and a worrying deterioration in health conditions, caused by water stagnation, garbage accumulation, lack of latrines, among other risk factors.
In the Preliminary Report there was also room for reflection on the phenomenon of massive occupation that is observed in the Montepuez Rubi mines and the consequent risk of collapse, which may have been the cause of the tragic accidents that occurred on the 5th and 6th of February where more than a dozen miners lost their lives.
Also made it possible to verify the involvement of women and children in the exploration activity and to realize that, although 5 of the 12 mining associations have already banned this practice, the use of dangerous and unwanted mercury in gold mining remains a threat.
From the analysis of the results, an important debate on the legal question of artisanal mining followed, having become evident the relevance of establishing legislation that specifically regulates this activity, in order to dignify its workers and their communities.
The event ended with the presentation of success stories brought by the “Sustainable Rural Development” project implemented in the district of Mueda by the NGO Alianza por la Solidaridad, as a way of showing sustainable alternatives to the extractive industry and the irrational exploration of natural resources.
Published on 18/02/20