Environmental Issues in Mozambique

This paper analyses current policy and legislation in relation to the praxis of artisanal gold mining in Mozambique. Approximately 20, 000 people are involved in artisanal mining in central Mozambique, producing annually 480–600 kg of gold, 85–90% of which remains in the informal economy. The current legislation, however, is inadequate: artisanal mining is supposed to take place in predetermined “designated areas”, none of which are gold-rich, and, artisanal miners are supposed to get an individual mining pass from provincial authorities, which rarely occurs. Artisanal miners’ associations get support from the Mining Development Fund. Yet, as these organisations are only viable where ore permits long lasting exploitation, their members represent less than 30% of the workforce. Hence the scope for improving miners’ working conditions and limiting their environmental impact through this type of organisation is limited. On the other hand, siltation of rivers and their pollution with heavy metals goes unchecked while the prohibition of artisanal mining, in and around conservation areas has proven counterproductive. The design of more appropriate policies, particularly those pertaining to the environment, hinges upon a better understanding of the socio-economic dynamics of the sector.

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