Mining companies in Rutsiro District have been called upon to assess their concessions and take measures to prevent disasters, which are at times caused by negligence.
The appeal comes in the wake of growing cases of mine collapses, the latest of which having occured on Thursday in Rutebeya Sector, Rutsiro District.
Police and other security organs, along with residents, worked together to rescue eight miners that had been trapped inside.
At least two people died. The concession is owned by RETC Limited.
Senior Supt. Paul Butera, the District Police Commander (DPC) of Rutsiro, reminded owners of mining concessions to take precautionary measures to prevent any acts that put the lives of their employees at risk.
“The safety of employees should come first, and this requires continuous assessment of their concessions and manning their sites against illegal mining, which is one of the causes of disasters,” Butera said.
Rutsiro is one of the districts with a high number of cases of illegal mining.
The district is rich in cassiterite and coltan.
“It is suicide to enter in a mine when you don’t know its status, especially in the rainy season, which weakens the soils and is likely to cause landslides,” Butera said.
“We had information from members of the public that there are some people behind this illegal act of mining; they send others to mining concessions, especially at night, and in turn buy these minerals from them. Some of these people have been arrested, and operations against such illegal and dangerous activities are continuous,” he added.
The DPC said that police were working with local authorities to inspect all concessions in Rutsiro and ascertain their safety measures.
“This is meant to emphasis the issue of safety; if a concession is found to be involved in any illegal acts or in a state that put lives of their employees at risk, mining activities at that specific site will be suspended until the highlighted safety concerns are addressed.”
Mining, he emphasised, has its procedures and laws that have to be followed; mining and selling minerals is done by licenced companies and people.