Small-scale artisanal mining in Mozambique is a major source of income for thousands of families living in rural areas in mineral-rich provinces, but many still operate outside the formal circuit and without conditions. That is why studies and research are underway to guide the authorities in adopting better policies.
It was in this context that the Higher Institute of Science and Technology of Mozambique (ICTEM), in collaboration with the Department of Geology of Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), held on Tuesday 23 May an international conference on “Geology, Mines and Society (GeoMinas, SO)”.
On the occasion, Salvador Mondlane, a lecturer at the UEM science faculty, explained that the country will continue to see an increase in artisanal activities due to the rise in mineral prices. “In Mozambique, the latest survey indicates that there are 229,000 artisanal and small scale miners and it is estimated that there are 151,000 buyers, sellers of various products and service providers within the Artisanal Small Scale Mining (ASM) chain,” said Mondlane, and then explained: “these figures could triple in the next decade, especially due to the rise in mineral products. Thus, it should be reiterated that ASM contributes significantly to the production of these”.
The UEM lecturer also considered that this value chain has the potential to generate employment and create wealth, as “this is the sector that employs the most people after the State apparatus and the family agriculture sector”.
Among the main characteristics of ASM, Salvador Mondlane highlighted “poverty, the difficulty of employment in rural areas, the alternative of subsistence for peasants during the dry season and the galloping prices of mineral products”.
Mondlane explained, however, that there are evils that arise from artisanal mining, which, in his opinion, “does not always produce a fixed income for the miners; it is sometimes not sustainable”, he stressed, also mentioning “the negative impacts on the physical and social environment”, giving the example of the use of mercury to process gold and the potential risks of contamination and dangers to human health of this type of materials used.
But not everything goes wrong, as for the UEM professor, “since ASM is the most important form of mining in many African countries, it has the potential to generate foreign exchange and taxes for national governments, but this is only if it is well organized”.
Finally, Salvador Mondlane explained that “there is a need for the formalization of this segment, which is crucial to facilitate the dissemination of good mining and processing practices in the country”.
The International Mining Conference is part of the SUGERE Project (Sustainable Sustainability and Wise Use of Geological Resources), funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme, which involves nine higher education institutions from different countries: Agostinho Neto University and Instituto Superior Politécnico Tundavala (Angola); University of Cape Verde and Santiago University (Cape Verde); University of Salamanca (Spain); University of Turin (Italy); and the University of Coimbra (Portugal).