Over 1,500 small scale gold miners in Narok will receive gear to protect them from work hazards.
The miners in Lolgorian, under the ‘Farmers on Gold’ association, will get the safety equipment support from an American tourist, Matthew Hales.
When Mr Hales visited the Maasai Mara Game Reserve for the first time, he met the miners and was touched by their plight as they toiled in the minefields while exposing themselves to danger.
“I was concerned about the working conditions of the small scale gold miners and decided to launch ‘Farmers of Gold’ to attract funding from well-wishers in my home country to support them,” he said.
Among the donated equipment are safety glasses, ear plugs, gloves, helmets and gumboots. Hales is also assisting the miners to build a small processing plant to ease and secure their work.
He said he had already acquired a gold shaking table and centrifugal concentrator machine from China which would be installed at the plant to ensure that the miners’ operations were free of mercury.
“Machines and equipment used in gold mining may not be expensive but are not found in Kenya and have to be imported from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa and China, making it difficult for small scale miners to get them,” said Hales.
Speed up process
Pauline Owino, who has worked in the Lolgorian mines for a long time, said most miners used the mercury mix to speed up the process of extracting gold from the rocks using their bare hands despite the dangers posed by the substance.
“We know that we are endangering our lives by using mercury in the extraction of gold, but as poor small scale miners who earn very little, we do not have much option but to persevere. That was until Matthew Hales came to our aid,” she said.
Bonface Kashu on the other hand said he used to work as a teacher but resigned 10 years to venture into gold trade where he said he has made a good fortune compared to what he got working as in government schools.
He called on the government to support the mining sector as there were many avenues that remained unexploited and had a potential of turning around the country’s economy.
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