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Government acts on riverbed mining

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Private investors intending to undertake mining operations on riverbeds will have to form joint ventures with government if the Mines & Minerals Amendment Bill currently before Parliament passes. Private sector players that haveĀ gone into riverbed mining have been accused of concentrating on generating revenues and profits at the expense of safeguarding the environment. Mining methods deployed during riverbed mining, mostly during alluvial gold extraction, have left extensive environmental damage as toxic chemicals such as mercury are used. Analysts say the non-deterrent penalties encourage miners to violate environmental laws, make profits and pay the US$5 000 in fines as opposed to investing about US$5 million in mining methods that protect the environment. The Bill now seeks to put a stop to the wanton destruction of the environment by miners. It proposes to impose a fine not exceeding level 14 or twice the value of the minerals as valuated by a qualified assayer. Offenders can be both fined and imprisoned. It also gives EMA more powers to act against those caught on the wrong side of the law. – FinGaz

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