GOLD RUSH in Eastern Province

GOVERNMENT has started issuing licences to small-scale miners in Eastern Province to enable them mine gold legally, Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development Permanent Secretary Barnaby Mulenga has said. Mr Mulenga says the issuing of licences is meant to empower small-scale miners in Eastern Province, and also avoid exploitation of the recently discovered gold in the region

He said Government is also working with the Zambia Consolidated Copper MinesInvestment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) to set up trading hubs to give an opportunity to small-scale miners to sell gold to ZCCM-IH, which will in turn sell it to the Bank of Zambia. “ZCCM-IH is going to provide a ready market where small-scale miners will mine their gold and they will be given an opportunity to sell it to ZCCM-IH. This will ensure they are not exploited by unscrupulous business people,” he said. He said through the ZCCM-IH arrangement, the small-scale miners will get a fair return on their labour.

M r M u l e n g a a l s o s a i d Government is tightening the process of licensing because some people in Eastern Province have licences but do not use them. “There are some people who have licences for mines in Eastern Province but they are just holding them for speculative purposes, so the ministry is now cautioning them and asking them to start using the licences to mine gold and not just keep them for speculation,” he said. Mr Mulenga also encouraged people with licences, both Zambian and foreign investors, to open up large-scale mines because Government has keen interest in them. He said Government will provide a conducive environment for people to invest in gold mining, be it at small or large scale, and, therefore, people should take advantage of the opportunity.

Mr Mulenga said Government is looking to have more gold mines opened in the near future. He added that Zambians should be happy about the newly discovered gold deposits in Eastern Province as they will bring about a lot of job opportunities for the local people. Mr Mulenga also called for sustainable mining where people can mine gold safely without any loss of lives in the process. On February 21, Government announced that almost all the districts in Easte