AllAfrica.com have an article about a British company that has just discovered gold in the South West of Kenya. Sadly, the article makes it sound as if discovering gold is good news. It is good news for the companies involved and the article tries to make it sound as if it will also be good news for people living in the area and people already involved in artisanal mining.
Does anyone seriously believe that any African country is better off for discovering gold? I don't think the artisanal miners will be jumping for joy either, despite the gold firm's claims to have forged 'excellent relationships' with local people. There's always a lot of similar bullshit when foreign companies know they are on to a good thing here.
Kenya should take a look at the experience of Tanzania. In fact, this mining area is probably contiguous with some of Tanzania's mines, given the suspiciously straight South border between the two countries. Tanzanians receive little or nothing from their substantial gold reserves. Most of the profits go to foreigners, especially Canadian ones. The Tanzanian government seems to be very favourable when it comes to foreign mining operations, giving them tax breaks and leaving employment laws lax enough to give the gold firms carte blanch to treat people like slaves.
Kenya could ask the artisanal miners there if they have 'excellent relationships' with gold firms, that's if they can still find artisanal miners in the gold industry. Or they could read an article called "Golden Opportunity: Justice and Respect in Mining". Before Kenyans allow themselves to be walked over and taken advantage of yet again, allow even more of their environment to be destroyed, allow more of their people to be exploited in a savage and corrupt industry, allow themselves to be duped out of even more revenue, allow a handful of people to become extremely rich at the expense of the majority, they really should read the article.
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