Report by Sally Namuye
The government has suspended quartz mining activities for 23 artisanal mining groups in Wundanyi sub-county following fears of possible violence arising from alleged ownership dispute between two rival groups.
The stop-order that halted the operations for Kishushe Mining CBO at Kengecha area was issued on Thursday evening by Wundanyi sub-county Deputy County Commissioner Maina Ngunyi who was accompanied by the sub-county security team and mining officials.
The Deputy County Commissioner, Maina Ngunyi accompanied by sub-county security team said the mining operation will remain suspended saying a rival mining group was also claiming the same mining zone; a situation that raised the possibility of a conflict.
“Whenever there is a possibility of conflict in any area, all operations must cease until the dispute is resolved. This is what we are doing here,” he said.
However, members of Kishushe Miming CBO who work at the mining site dismissed the allegations of dispute as wild and malicious rumors being fueled by business rivals to disrupt the artisanal miners’ activities in the region.
Matilda Waleghwa, a miner in the region cautioned the government official against getting involved in what she described as trade wars.
“There is no conflict here. We are the legitimate owners of this mine but some people are trying to use police and security agencies to frustrate our work,” she said.
The Kishushe Mining CBO is one of the biggest mining groups in the region with over 500 members. It is a consortium of 23 smaller CBOs that focuses on mining quartz in the region. The CBO was primarily formed to streamline the mining operations, enhance miners’ unity and actively seek markets for their products.
Quartz is used in making jewellery, glass, watches and clocks. It is also used to make glass pieces for microscopes, telescopes and lasers.