Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gold: Mining made easier as miners cash in on simple stone crusher

Mined ore next to the simple ore crusher at Macalder mines, Migori County

Gold mining is not a simple job, especially when it involves using rudimentary methods to get the precious mineral.

For the miners at the Macalder Mines in Migori, it has taken days on end, at times weeks to crush an ore. However, those who have seen the miners suffering have thought out ways of helping them and developed a simple ore crusher that has now made their work easy.

The crusher comes as a big reprieve to the miners who have been extracting the gem stone manually, incurring huge losses and wasting too much time.

“It used to take up to two days for miners to crush their ore manually in the energy sucking process, but after the ore crusher was introduced there is ease in gold extraction,” says

George Odhiambo, an official with the Migori County Association of Miners.

Odhiambo notes that the crusher has been replicated in other areas of Nyanza such as Rongo, Kuria and Rachuonyo districts.

Equally, with the ore crusher, the number of miners has gone up with more women opting for the occupation which was previously male dominated.

At the mines Jacinta Auma, a 30 year widow with four children, spreads her five basins of ore next to the crusher. Auma wakes up at 5am to transport the ore which takes her two days to collect.

Initially she would carry the ore on her head as she could not afford to pay the KSh100 charged for transportation using a donkey but says with the ore crusher has made her work easier as she is sure to get her gold and sell it by evening.

“Work has been simplified since we started using the crusher. With these five basins I expect about 0.3g of fine gold which will earn me about KSh750,” explains Auma.

Auma opted to invest in a stone crusher after her husband who was miner and the sole bread winner was diagnosed with Tuberculosis in 2007 and bed ridden for three years.


“We started mining in the hope that he would recover, but he eventually became paralysed and we decided to dispose of some of the family assets to buy a crusher which now has been our major source of income,” says Auma said, adding their children are also now going to school.

The first ore crusher was introduced shortly after eight members of the Migori County Association of Miners attended workshops in Zambia and South Africa, which are renowned mining economies in Africa, to learn about best practices in mining.

“After the training, we received funding to educate miners in the area on how to assemble the simple ore crusher after which we gave out a few for trial in the mines,” explains Odhiambo.

The ore crusher has helped to fill the void in the market, as locals take a lead in making them. At the moment, the crusher has been a successful venture that allows for greater prospecting in the area.

“The ore crusher is also a source of revenue for locals who want to make money by offering crushing services,” observes Odhiambo.

The ore crusher shows how other brands like Wrangler Jeans and Boots which came with the gold rush in United States are tough even though they didn’t look for gold directly.

To get a crusher one needs around KSh350,000. What one needs is a China made diesel engine which rotates a locally assembled motor with specially placed 350-500 steel balls each weighing about 205kg to crush the ore like a posho mill.

“The steel balls are contained in a locally fabricated steel container with an opening to allow for the ore to be placed and crushed into fine powder within 30-45 minutes,” explains Odhiambo.

He notes that a water tank constructed near the crushers help in cooling the machine so it does not over heating as the water circulates within the steel balls.

Since the money needed to assemble a crusher is not little, those who own it charge a fee so the miners can crush their rocks.

Clinton Oballa who owns a crusher charges about KSh70 for a basin of ore with a single session taking up to 7 basins which in a good week gives him something close to KSh5,000 before deducting the cost of running the machine
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