A mining accident killed five people, on Friday July 3, in Muhororo sector of Ngororero District. It is alleged that the deceased had sneaked into a quarry known to have minerals to mine illegally when a sudden landslide occurred, leading to its collapse, trapping them inside. Patrick Uwihoreye, the vice Mayor in charge of economic development in the district told The New Times, on Saturday, that vigilance would be stepped up to fight against illegal mining practices in which people’s lives have been lost. “The local officials were not aware that the area has minerals. So the residents discovered that there were minerals and started illegally mining without required equipment and protection. We continue to educate residents that illegal mining is deadly because no safety measures are in place and that any illegal miner who will also be caught red-handed will be fined,” he said. The official said that security personnel have been deployed to the site to avoid further incidence. “We are going to look for an investor in collaboration with the mining board so that the minerals are legally extracted while also ensuring the safety of miners,” he said. He added that even licensed mining companies should take into account workers safety and provide insurance cover to employees. Illegal mining has also been found to be the major causes of erosion in the district since the mining sites are not rehabilitated, officials said. So far there are 12 lincensed mining companies in Ngororero district. Uwihoreye said the number has reduced from 22 companies last year considering that mining licenses have expired for some while others were denied renewal due to lack of required capacity in mining operations. Narcisse Dushimimana, the Head of Mining Regulation and Inspection Department told The New Times that the area of incidence in Ngororero district has been added to the list of areas that are in need of investors for legal mining operations that comply with safety measures for workers. “This will ensure we eliminate illegal mining activities,” he said. However, he said the first measure is to educate residents that illegal mining poses threats to their lives adding that it is punished by the law. “We need to work closely with local leaders to eliminate illegal mining because that is the one that causes accidents, especially because they go there during night. We also urge licensed companies to use required and standard equipment that can reduce likelihood of accidents,” he said. Low compliance with standards He noted that some companies have lost their licenses due to lack of requirements in mining operations. “Mining accidents have been decreasing over the last five years. We are also training more technicians to ensure standards in mining operations,” he added. According to figures from Rwanda Mines Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), Ngororero District recorded the highest number of accidents in 2018 and 2019 among other districts that include Kamonyi, Rutsiro, Muhanga, and Rulindo. The report indicates that at least 116 mining deaths were recorded in 2018 and 106 in 2019. Of the mining deaths in 2019, the report shows that 47 deaths were blamed on illegal mining in both mining and quarries and that mining deaths in quarries alone increased from 12 to 20 deaths in 2018 and 2019 respectively. In 2018, only 23 percent of mining firms were complying with mining standards and 40 per cent in 2019. That means that firms failed to comply with safety and health standards, waste management, modern mining operations, environment protection, processing, infrastructures, and others, officials said. The number of mining companies reduced to 116 in 2020 from over 300 companies due to lack of financial capacity to comply with mining standards.