Ministry of Labour has threatened to close any mining firm contravening occupational safety and health standards to protect workers and communities from the risk of contracting diseases such as tuberculosis (TB).
Speaking at Liwonde in Machinga on Tuesday during a biannual TB in Mines Project Review Meeting funded by the World Bank, Balaka district labour officer Edson Luchapa said mining is one of the most dangerous work that requires employers to provide protective gear to their employees.
He said: “Some of the mining companies continue to ignore our plea for the provision of protective gear to workers. The only option remaining is to close the companies and indict them.”
On his part, Balaka District Council chairperson Michael Chauluka said the World Bank-funded project has changed the mindset of people who work in mines.
Balaka district TB officer Thomas Bizeck said during the period under review (January to June 2020), they projected to have 224 TB cases, but they diagnosed 178, representing 80 percent success rate.
The 2020 Malawi Government Annual Economic Report said in terms of growth, the mining sector experienced a steady growth trajectory of over 1.3 percent in the financial year 2019/20 in lime and rock aggregate quarrying due to increased construction projects in the country.
It said mineral exploration also increased in most cases as a result of continued demand by the mineral consuming industries and the export market.
The contribution of mining and quarrying sector to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) remained low at 0.8 percent in 2019 due to the closure of Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga which is under care and maintenance due to persistently low global prices of uranium.
The mine was closed in February 2014.