By HSE East Africa | Monday Aug 28, 2017
Two miners died after they were electrocuted while mining in Nyatike Sub-county, Migori County on Saturday 26th July 2017. According to media reports, the electrocution was caused by faulty electrical pumping equipment which was used to pump water from the flooded mines.
This is the latest of many incidents reported in the area in recent months. In June 2017, a gold miner died from suspected asphyxiation due to carbon monoxide from a generator used to pump water from the Masara mine in Migori. A similar incident occurred at the Osiri Gold mine in April 2016 resulting in the death of one miner and injuring four others. The mine’s ventilation was reportedly blocked following a landslide while the five were still inside. In 2015, two men aged 23 and 24 years died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the same location. The two suffocated when they tried to pump out water from the mine using a petrol-powered generator.
In December 2014, two gold miners died while seven others escaped death narrowly after a mine collapsed in Osiri. The mine walls collapsed at dawn due to heavy rains the previous night.
The crude processing methods that involve use of mercury to extract gold from the ore is another major problem in the region. Miners are exposed to mercury poisoning through this process which could lead to irritability, fatigue, behavioral changes, tremors, headaches, hearing and cognitive loss, hallucinations and even death. Mercury could also contaminate the land and water where gold processing occurs.
There have also been reports of increased cases of child labour in the gold mines in the area. Exposure of children to these hazards could be detrimental to their well-being in the long run.
Previous attempts by the government to close the mines due to the unsafe conditions have been opposed by the miners who claim that over 1000 families depend on the mines directly.