A September 2014 Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining called for improvements on welfare of all local people involved in the mining activities, including provision of protective gear and better buying prices for the mineral.
Government, which undertook an investigation at Nthale in Blantyre rural following complaints from the miners, suggested that the artisanal miners should be organised into a cooperative society for them to be known by government and operate formally.
The report also stated that the company should provide corporate social responsibility (CSR) amenities.
Among the contentious CSR issues is the community’s demand for maintenance of bridges on new roads as the communities contend the company’s trucks used to transport loads of iron ore have damaged existing infrastructure.
The report also said the mining was being done without any environmental assessment study, partly due to lack of Mining Claim Licence (MCL) by Shayona.
T/A Makata in an interview on Thursday blamed his subjects for not heeding his advice to stop working and negotiate for a better price.
He said he engaged the company and urged his people to stop and still negotiate for a better pay, but they refused and went on to negotiate for K2 000 per tonne behind his back.
But Gulamu Sherrif, who is Shayona projects coordinator, dismissed suggestions that his company may be in any illegal activities, saying Shayona is not operating a mine in the area, but simply buying the iron ore from local communities.
The investigators headed by E.L Saiti, the Mining Department’s regional engineer (South), recommended after the probe: “According to the quantity of the iron ore being mined from the site, if the company would like to continue obtaining such quantities of the mineral, then it would be better for the Department of Mines to advise the company to operate by holding a Mining Licence other than the MCL.”
Commissioner of mines Charles Kaphwiyo confirmed the probe, but described the investigation as a routine inspection.
He said while the company has a valid mining licence, it has no MCL to mine iron ore in the area.
Kaphwiyo said this is so because the area has few deposits of iron ore to warrant full mining venture; hence; the company agreed with local communities to be mining the iron ore and selling it to the company. n