Lack of mining business knowledge among ASMs fuelling illegal mining

By Tawonga Mayuni

Mzimba based consultant in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector Chikomeni Manda says illegal mining which is fuelled by lack of mining business knowledge among ASMs is costing Malawi millions of dollars in lost mining revenue.

Manda said this during a basic gemology training course which he conducted for Northern Region members of the Malawi Women in Mining (MAWIMA) at Mzuzu E-Hub.  

“Most of the ASMs, especially those based in rural areas are mining illegally implying that they are not paying taxes and are destroying the environment because they are mining without any environmental knowledge and also most of the stones are sold to smugglers,” he said

Manda said that the miners need to be trained in mining business so that illegal mining is curbed in the country.

He said he organized the training in cooperation with MAWIMA because women in the mining sector need training as most of them have the passion to do mining business but they lack knowledge.

“Most of the women lack knowledge, they have the passion but there is no knowledge. This makes it difficult for them to succeed in the business, just a few of them are succeeding because they have knowledge, but the majority are not,” he said

Manda said the training was organized to build their confidence and empower the women with knowledge and skills because some women do not believe in themselves by thinking that mining is men’s business.

He expressed concern that though the ASM sector is growing and employing more people, there is lack of business and technical knowledge in the sector.

“The ASM sector is employing a lot of people but the major challenge is that those people are not informed, they do not have the proper knowledge of the business. That is a negative factor to the progress of the business’’ he said

Chairperson of the Malawi Women in Mining Association (MAWIMA) Northern Chapter Margret Nkhoma said that the training has helped the women to gain knowledge on gemstones and mining business in general.

“The women have been imparted with business and technical knowledge so that buyers cannot easily steal from them as they now know the value of the gemstones and will reject unrealistically low prices,” she said.

Commenting on the issue of illegal mining, Nkhoma encouraged small scale miners to get a license from the Department of Mines (DOM) and follow all the rules and regulations of the mining business.

The training had also youths in attendance. One of them Daisy Jere said that she was inspired by her mother who is a veteran in the business and she thought of joining MAWIMA.  Jere said that the training will help her pursue her dream, which is to venture into mining business.

The training, which was sponsored by Jill Urwin a customer to one of the women miners and the owner of Crystal Clear Company in the UK, attracted a total of 16 women from Mzimba and Mzuzu.

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