NAMPULA, MOZAMBIQUE, The Directorate of Mineral Resources and Energy in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula has admitted that much of the mining taking place in the province is illegal and that it is being encouraged by the recognized lack of capacity on the part of the provincial government to control abuses in the sector.

The chief inspector in the provincial directorate, Adeldo Sumbana, admitted in an interview that the local mineral resources sector does not possess enough human, financial and material resources to undertake effective monitoring, and prevent illegal artisanal mining which is damaging to the environment.

He even admitted that there are mining areas which the government does not know about, since there is a shortage of inspectors, and the directorate does not have representatives in all of Nampula’s districts who could legalise artisanal mining activity.

“It has not been easy to control the phenomenon of illegal mining. First, because we are not represented in all the districts, and even in the places where we do have a delegation, the working conditions are not very favourable for the inspector to cover the entire district. So there are areas where minerals are being exploited and we don’t know about it,” said Sumbana.

Attempts have been made to involve community leaderships in raising awareness of the problem among their communities, so that artisanal mining can be legalized, and those who prefer to work in illegal conditions can then be denounced.

Sumbana said most of the people who mine illegally are not aware of the real value of the minerals they dig up. They end up selling the minerals at low prices, which scarcely compensate them for the efforts they have made, much less improve their living conditions.

Nampula possesses a wide range of mineral resources, but to date only six associations of artisanal miners have been authorized to exploit them legally.