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Government orders closure of gold mines in Marsabit County over insecurity

The booming gold mines of Hillo in Moyale sub county of Marsabit county are no more after the government ordered its indefinite closure with immediate effect over security concerns.

County commissioner Nobert Komora delivered the message to hundreds of artisanal miners following a decision by the county intelligence and security committee which was in concurrent with that of the sub-county that activities at the mining site were a threat to state security.

Consequently, the miners and those carrying out businesses within the mining area have a 24-hour ultimatum to vacate or face forceful removal and prosecution.

Mr. Komora expressed the government’s concern that hatred inclined to tribalism had crept into the mining sites claiming six lives and injuring scores of others.

Two gold miners from two different ethnic groups from a neighbouring country on Sunday disagreed over discovery of a substantial amount of gold which resulted in a fight before generating into a clash between the two groups.

The county commissioner while on an assessment tour of the area pointed out that the mining activities had caused a lot of environmental degradation and people living under poor sanitary conditions which poised a risk of outbreak of diseases like cholera.

During the visit it was established that businesses established in the area involved were trading in unaccustomed import goods like alcoholic and soft drinks, sugar, powdered milk, cooking oil and rice.

He asked the mining community which he blamed of engaging in crime during the holy month of Ramadhan to ensure they were out of the area before the expiry of the notice else they will live to regret their decision.

The informal mining activities have been robbing the government revenue and wealth as most dealers were unlicensed.

The highest percentage of miners comprised of illegal foreigners from Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, DRC and Southern Sudan.

The county police commander Nyambu Mwakio said the site will remain out of bounds until decided otherwise.

The county security committee also resolved that the ministry of mining should consider undertaking reclamation of the area degraded by the mining activities.

By Sebastian Miriti

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