A new firm is seeking the government’s approval to be granted mining licence to produce gold in Nyang’oma, Bondo, Siaya County.
The application by Lakeside Limited proposes to set up an ore processing plant that will process gold from tailings remains from colonial gold mining and from the ore to be mined from other regions.
According to an application that is before the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the firm has earmarked a 7.1-hectare piece of land to conduct the exercise.
“The gold ore will be mined using semi-mechanised methods with drilling and blasting,” Lakeside Limited stated.
The development on the plot will consist of a concrete base where the Carbon-in-pulp (CIP) gold leaching plant will be mounted, crusher plant, CIP plant, tailings storage area and laboratory, among other utilities.
The request comes months after a section of residents raised concerns that excessive gold mining in Bondo and Rarieda sub-counties is threatening the safety of residents and workers in the area.
Death of miners
Mr Arthur Wang’oma said the more than 40 leaching sites in South Sakwa location alone have led to the death of miners and livestock over alleged use of poisonous chemicals.
“The owners of the sites who are mostly from the neighbouring Tanzania are luring locals by buying off or leasing their land at exploitative rates before setting up mining sites in the villages and exposing them to serious health risks,” Mr Wang’oma told the Nation.
But the new firm has indicated that all water from the leaching process and tailing washing will be discharged to the mixing tank for recycling and reuse in the leaching process instead of being released into the environment.
To suppress cyanide from being emitted as a fume into the environment, the proponents stated that they will use lime while workers will be equipped with personal protective equipment such as dust masks.
“We will adopt the wet crushing technology to minimise the amount of dust generated during crushing of tailings and rock ore,” they noted.
Following numerous complaints by the residents, an investigation by Nema earlier this year established that there was widespread use of sodium cyanide (a poisonous compound with the formula NaC) in a number of leaching plants to extract the precious metal.
“Our observation shows that sodium cyanide is used for leaching of gold, which has in certain instances led to the death of animals and pollution of the nearby environment,” stated Siaya County Director of Environment William Odeyo in a letter dated February 18.
Nema Director-General Mamo Boru, however, stated that the public can submit their oral or written comments on the proposal to establish a new site by November 22 to assist the environmental watchdog before making a final decision.