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Prolonged prospecting for gold unsettles Vubwi residents

PROLONGED prospecting of gold deposits has caused anxiety among the people of Vubwi.

And Auriel Mining Company Limited says it has applied for large-scale mining licence in Vubwi.

During the Zambia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative dissemination workshop in Vubwi last week, most Vubwi residents said there was need to review the period given for exploration.

Contributing to the heated debate over exploration, district commissioner Enelesi Banda said the perception by people was that there was gold in Vubwi but wondered why the department of Mines only gave exploration licence instead of actual mining licence.

“How long does exploration take? We have observed that exploration has been going on for some years now,” Banda asked.

She also asked the department of mines on the procedure they use in coming up with prospecting licence.

Banda said it pained her to see people from other areas benefitting from gold mining in Vubwi at the expense of the locals.

Vubwi council chairperson Joshua Daka wondered whether exploration was of any value to the explorer and the local people.

Daka hoped the dissemination workshop could mark the start of good things to come in as far as mining in the district was concerned.

But Eastern Province regional mines officer Brian Nyambe said exploration was granted a period of four years subject to renewal for another four years but it does not go beyond eleven years.

Nyambe cited the exploration that was done by Konkola Copper Mine as one which took more time.

“Exploration is very important because it gives a clear picture or quantifies the mineral deposits, which are under ground. I think people are just desperate here but we need to first of all find the leaf or the source. Sometimes exploration can take one month,” he said.

Nyambe said a licence could not be given to someone who had not done exploration.

And Ken Namanga from Auriel Mining Company Limited said it was the mining company, which asked for an extension of its exploration work.
Namanga said mining companies invest a lot in exploration.

He also said his company had done the environmental impact study and had since applied for a large scale mining licence.

Namanga said the licence they had currently was for exploration.

After the workshop, the residents resolved that such sensitisation meetings should be scaled up and urged government to review the period meant for prospecting.

They called for collaboration between the ministries of mines, lands and traditional leaders over the displacements of people in areas where mining activities were done.

The residents urged those involved in mining to register with the Ministry of Mines and called on mine owners to honour obligations to government through payment of tax.

Earlier, EITI delegation leader Kaonga Mazaba shared highlights of the 2015 EITI report.

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