MINES, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma says security wings have managed to trace some illegal gold miners and dealers on the black market in the ongoing investigations.
The ministry sent investigators in August to probe reports of illegal gold mining and exploration by some companies in different parts of the country.
This followed reports that some companies were mining and exporting the precious stone in the pretense of copper.
Mr Yaluma said in an interview during the week that the investigations had revealed that illegal gold mining was being done in Chibombo and Vubwi in Central and Eastern respectively.
“A good quantity of gold has been taken away and the Government would soon announce the arrest of those behind the illegal activity. The investigations are still going on, but we have realised that there are illegal miners of gold especially in Chibombo and Vubwi in Eastern Province.
“We have enforced the security – both government security and private to ensure that these people are arrested and we will soon get them arrested because the security is closing in,” he said.
He said most of the gold that was being mined at the moment was being sold on the black market and the Government has managed to identify some individuals and institutions behind the scam.
The minister also revealed that some investors had expressed interest to come with a processing plant that would help to refine the gold in a formalised manner.
Unlike at the moment when most of the precious stone is illegally exported, the investors hope to come up with a plant that would help refine the gold.
It is believed that the business has boomed as miners are finding it easy to mine unlike other mineral products like copper where heavy duty machines are needed.
The Government had issued a stern warning in August that it would not spare companies that were illegally exploring and exporting gold without making a declaration.
While Eastern and Central have been identified as provinces with high rates of illegal gold mining, Copperbelt and North-Western provinces have also reportedly been highly affected.
Times of Zambia