By JOHN KOMBE
GOLD cooperatives in Rufunsa have protested against the siege of rich mineral sites in the area by foreigners and have now appealed to Government to kick out the invaders before they deplete the resource.
Pokela Gold Mining Cooperative vice chairman, Josias Malunga, bemoaned the increase in illegal gold miners in Rufunsa.
Mr Malunga lamented that the legalised gold cooperatives had sampled two sites and came out with nothing, a situation he described as unfortunate.
He named the two sites as Kaenda and Chamuona in Chintimwi ward of Rufunsa.
Mr Malunga said the gold mining cooperatives had commenced operations but were bewildered at the extent of depletion of the mineral by foreign miners.
“The area is under siege by foreign buyers who were buying the gold from illegal miners. This must be stopped if the country is to gain from the resource,” he said.
Mr Malunga appealed to Government to ensure that illegal mining was stopped as it had the potential of robbing the country of the much-needed revenue because the mined resource was not being sold to the State.
He however expressed optimism that the cooperatives would locate sites with enough gold deposits once the invaders were flushed out.
Mr Malunga said cooperatives on their own could not stop the vice as some of the illegal miners were working with individuals from the local community.
He stressed that Government should immediately stop the illegality because foreign buyers were offering a lower price and were not even paying tax.
Mr Malunga also appealed to the locals not to trade with foreign buyers as this was depriving the community and country of the benefits that would accrue if Government bought the gold.
He appealed to them to consider joining the legalised cooperatives who were working with ZCCM-IH to ensure that the country reaps benefits from its natural resources.
And Chimwetu Gold Mining Cooperative chairman, Emmanuel Tembo, said that illegal mining must not be left to continue as it was a threat to development.
Mr Tembo said the influx of illegal miners was a stumbling block for gold cooperatives to thrive.