Over 3,000 small scale gold miners in Lolgorian ward in Transmara Sub- county, Narok County have appealed for support towards sustainable long term solutions to improve their safety during excavation.
Speaking at Ololtingual village, the miners who are also members of Lolgorian Farmers of Gold Self Help Group appealed to the County and the National governments to provide them with subsidized protective mining gear for the activity.
They cited lack of equipment like helmets, gold pans, smelter machines and gumboots among others saying they were not available in the country, several decades since gold was discovered in the area in the 1960s.
Simon Odoyo (aka Jaramba), the former Chairman of the group which has membership drawn from 10 mining sites also decried lack of machines like compressor, Jaw crusher and shakers which could increase efficiency and income of the mining community.
He lamented that the miners were still using mercury to extract gold from crashed rock which is a health hazard.
Current Chairman John Okelo applauded an American well-wisher who recently donated a shaker table machine that can be used in place of mercury, and for introducing a new model for value addition but noted that much more backing would elevate the members.
The Ololtingual site overseer Jacob Sige noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had made matters worse after the mining activity was closed for two weeks by the county government to control spread of the disease.
Well-wisher Matt Hales who has been teaching them on value addition models to their commodity said the miners needed self-sustaining solutions like use of new technology to increase efficiency of gold mining.
He said use of mercury and other chemicals was hazardous to health as doing so could cause diseases like Tuberculosis.
He noted that over 18 million people doing such mining around the world needed to get better models to reap better returns from the activity.
A gold smelter and buyer, Daniel Muita explained challenges like poor prices for the un-refined commodity which is smelted using a charcoal jiko and health risks from inhaling mercury. He said he earned Sh. 500 a day from an average of 2grams of unrefined gold.
Catherine Ngige who has been extracting gold from crushed rock for the last 20 years said the exercise was a costly venture adding however that the business had educated and put bread on the table for her five children.
By Clinton Nyamumbo and Jane Naitore