Police in Musanze District have appealed to residents to partner against acts of illegal mining, which at times result into disasters and affect the environment.
The call was made on August 15, by the Northern Region Police Spokesperson, Inspector of Police (IP) Innocent Gasasira, who noted that majority of disasters and loss of lives in mining concessions involve illegal miners.
The call follows an incident in Musanze Sector where four illegal miners were trapped in a concession in Cyabagarura cell on Sunday.
In detailing how the accident happened, IP Gasasira said, “On August 14, the four men entered a concession with a jerrycan of petrol which they intended to use in melting down a rock that was obstructing them from digging deeper.”
“In the process, however, they were suffocated by the smoke and they couldn’t get out. Even nine other colleagues who attempted to rescue them failed and sustained injuries although they managed to get out,” IP Gasasira said.
“We can’t confirm their status as of now; we can’t tell if they are still alive or dead but response teams are currently on the ground and doing their best to retrieve the victims,” he added.
He identified the victims as Sixbert Nzigiyimana the owner of the concession, Jean de Dieu Kamanzi, Mbarushimana alias Kazungu, and Calliope Nambajimana.
“Nzigiyimana was in 2009 given a license to conduct research on the quarry but not to mine. He was supposed to report back after identifying the site and the recovered minerals to get another license to mine; unfortunately he went ahead which resulted into this regrettable incident.”
It has since been established that Nzigiyimana had a license to conduct research on quarry but not to mine. He acquired the license in 2009 but stopped his activities in 2012.
“As we continue searching for the missing, we appeal to the public to desist from acts of illegal mining. The risks are life threatening; anyone who would like to invest in mining should go through appropriate channels, acquire a license and take all safety precautions at their concessions,” IP Gasasira said.
“These are unfortunate avoidable incidents. We urge the general public to avoid risky activities and call upon Rwandans especially those residing near mining concessions to report any illegal mining activities so as to prevent similar deadly incidents.”
He further appealed to owners of mining concessions to take precautions to secure their sites against illegal miners.