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Varsity, miners agree on skills upgrading

Taita Taveta University plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with artisanal miners in the region, to offer training on modern mining procedures and other necessary skills in extracting of the minerals.

David Zowe, the Chairperson for Taita-Taveta Artisanal Miners in Taita-Taveta, said there was need for mining empowerment programs, to be passed to the grassroots to benefit the local residents.

Taita-Taveta University specializes in offering mining courses to learners in the institution.

Speaking to KNA Tuesday, the chair noted that such programs should include, means by which artisanal miners can get access to money and equipment, to make their activities more efficient.

“The artisanal miners are engaged in labour-intensive activities, while extracting the minerals on the ground. They are the bottom chain of mining processes. If they are empowered they can contribute, meaningfully to the economy of the County,” said Zowe.

A section of Artisanal Miners from Mwachabo Community Based Organization mining group, blast a rock using a compressor. Photo by Gidnora Mkacharo

Mining is one of the key economic activities in Taita-Taveta County, providing employment and generating income for the residents living in locations of mineral sites.

However, challenges still abound, there are over 200 registered groups of artisanal miners in the region.

“Major challenges are lack of equipment, modern mining knowledge, lack of safety gear, and dynamites to blast rocks, sometimes the miners employ manual operations, which might be exhausting and slow consuming time,” he said.

Zowe added that the benefits of the MoU are many. They include training artisanal miners on the skills on how to identify the mineral area and the techniques in digging into the tunnels.

Others are knowledge on safe use of equipment and dynamites, to minimize risk of injuries or deaths.

The Chair further noted that some of the risks artisanal miners face are running out of oxygen while inside the tunnels, which can lead to death.

Some of the innovative ways the artisanal miners are exploring to ease their work include, using radios for communicating inside the tunnels.

He added that they hoped to start an online platform that will boost marketing minerals from the region.

Zowe added that the Voi Geology Centre would also come in handy in providing a market for their minerals.

By Gidnora Mkacharo

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