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Small scale gold mining transforming livelihoods in Southern Malawi

March 18, 2024 / Francis TAYANJAH-PHIRI
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The small-scale mining craze that has hit areas around Milepa Trading Centre in Chiradzulu and nearby surrounding places of Zomba and Mulanje, is resulting in sound financial earnings for members of the local population, which is transforming their lives.

Mining & Trade Review tour of the areas revealed that scores of the residents have started businesses like make-shift restaurants and liquor shops, motorcycle taxis, and selling second hand clothes targeting the miners and gold buyers.

Said a Kabaza operator Ladmen Kamfose: “My life and that of my family has drastically improved since the gold was found around here, sometime around November last year. My motorcycle [Kabanza] taxi has made me lots of profits than before.”

“Around November and December, at the peak of mining, we [motorcycle operators] used to make a net profit of between K20,000 to K25,000 per day implying we could even compete with some minibus operators in terms of daily profits.”

Kamfose, however, said the earnings are now dwindling because a lot of miners who flocked to the area are relocating to other places in nearby Phalombe District, where it is deemed there is also plenty of gold.

“Just like my colleague here is saying, this mining venture, though informal, has made businesses boom in this area. People are no longer the same, they have money. How I wish government formalized the mining and helped out to prospect for more gold, which we believe is plenty around these areas. Indeed, local peoples’ lives would drastically improve,” Said Yamikani Maduka, Chair for the Mining Initiative in the area.

He also concurred with Kamfose that the coming of the gold mining initiative in the area has extremely helped masses of people to survive the serious food shortage in the area.

Maduka said mining has made existing businesses boom, new ones being established, and lots of locals finding part time jobs that are helping them to ably buy food and other needs.

With the mining of gold, vendors, who previously mainly traded in reputable markets in Chiradzulu, Zomba, Mulanje and Phalombe, have now become residents of Milepa, selling their wares.

According to chair of the Milepa Business Fraternity, Mc Mrazio Mandawala, businesses that have seen a remarkable revenue boom are shabeens, resthouses, bars, fish vending, butcheries, and many other informal businesses.

During the visit to the mining sites, Mining & Trade Review also observed that there are many sex workers in the area, alcoholism and threat of marriage breakages due to men using money earned from mining activities to entice women.

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