Illegal mining blamed for many deaths in Kamonyi

Eight people have died in Kamonyi District since June this year due to illegal mining. / Courtesy

Eight people have died and 25 others injured in Kamonyi District since June this year due to illegal mining. More than 15 are in jail yet, according to Rwanda Mines Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), more than 50 others are suspected to be still engaging in illegal mining.

John Kanyangire, the Director of the Mining Inspection Unit at RMB, said people illegally use abandoned mines and this poses a great danger.

“We are trying to work jointly with district officials and security organs to ensure security at abandoned mines, but it is a major challenge since nobody is responsible,” said Kanyangire.

More than six mines have closed in Kamonyi District for not meeting the required operational standards, Kanyangire said, adding that normally when a mine is closed, the former owner has to rehabilitate the site, However, locals often mine it again illegally.

The Mayor of Kamonyi District, Alice Kayitesi, urged residents to desist from exploiting the abandoned mines because of the dangers they pose.
She said RMB was in the process of professionalising the mining sector moving, artisanal to semi-mechanised. This requires heavy investments yet the current miners don’t have such financial capacity, she said.

However, they are trying to consolidate the mines into big blocks so that big investors can be attracted or mining companies pool resources to operate them.

According to Rwanda Investigation Bureau, this year alone over 50 people have been killed through illegal mining activities while 41 were injured countrywide.

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