The Ministry of Mines will investigate claims that gold deposits are being exposed in Mwanza where the Brazilian company, Vale Logistics, is carrying out a railway construction project.

Two weeks ago, clashes erupted between villagers and railway project construction workers in Traditional Authorities Simon and Chekucheku in the district over alleged gold fragments that were exposed in the area.

However, Mota Engil – the contractor that is working on the rail project, has dismissed claims that there is illegal mining of gold taking place alongside its construction works.

Minister of Mines John Bande saidon Tuesday the ministry will investigate the matter.

“If Mota-Engil have come across precious stones, they should have informed us for appropriate action. But we will investigate the matter to establish the truth,” said Bande.

He said President Joyce Banda has already directed that geological surveys should be conducted throughout the country to establish complete facts about Malawi’s minerals landscape, including in the area in question.

He said mining is a delicate activity and that it is impossible to extract minerals from the earth and process them without having an impact on the air, land and water, as well as plant and animal life.

“Mining must always be undertaken with minimal disruption of the environment during exploration and exploitation and to maximise the effectiveness of rehabilitation of land and closure measures at the end of the mine’s life,” said Bande.

One villager from Traditional Authority Simon’s area told our sister paper, Malawi News last week, that a crane working on the site exposed some precious stones which the villagers started to pick, resulting in a feud between the two parties.

Chief Chekucheku also told the paper that for some time, people in the area have heard that people were extracting precious stones.

However, Mota Engil Contractual Matters Manager Noel German said the story may have come out of confusion with some part of the project in Mwanza where another company is running a concession to explore gold.

Currently the French government and World Bank are funding different air surveys covering the whole country. – By Caroline Kandiero

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