When the Gold Rush to Africa was first recorded in world history three centuries ago, many did not know that Zambia may have it in abundance some day as evidenced by the deposits reported in north western province.
Gold, which has been mined for several years by registered mining companies, among others, Kansanshi, a unit of Toronto listed and Vancouver based miner as well as other ‘pirates’ of the new found fortunes, little was heralded of the area’s potential to bolster Zambia’s fortunes if exploited.
Recent pronouncements by President Edgar Lungu that ‘there lies deposits of gold’ in Mwinilunga, though the quantities or ore grades of the minerals have been hinted, the mad rush is envisaged to ensue in Zambia with many seeking to tap into “what is better than” copper and cobalt in value.
Although copper might be fetching a staggering US$6.300/ton on the London Metal Market, with cobalt fetching a whooping US$80,000/ton, gold is relatively fetching, US$1,417.85 per ounce, priced per gram at US445.58 with price per kilo averaging US$45,594.94, Zambia should surely brace for a “mad rush” not only Mwinilunga but the whole province will soon be swamped in search of the new fortune.
There authoritative confirmation on the deposits lying in north western Zambia, which is becoming a new Copper-Gold belt as seemingly no one knows exactly how much deposit or amount of gold rock the area is endowed with.
Peter Chanda, the Permanent Secretary, when reached for a comment was apt: “I have no idea” he said while referring to metallurgical experts on quantities and grades alike.
Geoffrey Mulenga, head of the Association of Mineral Exploration Companies-AZMEC, too could not estimate but called for securing the area to ensure it was not “abused” by uncouth miners, pretending to be ‘investors or infesters”
However, one thing is for sure, the Gold Rush will soon engulf Zambia unless the natural resource is preserved for local small scale miners or those undertaking joint venture.
President Edgar Lungu during his recent trip to Mwinilunga attested to the presence of the gold deposits in the area with a warning against wanton mining of the precious metal by unscrupulous people hence called for ring-fencing to avert plunder as was the case “during the Africa Gold Rush era of the 18th Century.
According to mineral experts, gold is used for various purposes including medicinal. Gold is used as a drug to treat a small number of medical conditions. Injections of weak solutions of sodium aurothiomalate or aurothioglucose are sometimes used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Pure Gold is soft and is usually alloyed with other metals, such as silver, copper, platinum or palladium, to increase its strength. Gold alloys are used to make jewelry, decorative items, dental fillings and coins.
Gold in Mwinilunga (synopsis)
Gold has been discovered in a small river of Kasensele in Mwinilunga district of Northwestern province in Chief Chibwika’s area.
• Its alleged that a primary school teacher in the area grabbed some nuggets of gold from pupils who were playing with raw chunks of gold without knowing their worth. Out of curiosity the teacher asked his pupils where the source of the stone or nuggets was and he was told it was picked from Kasensele River.
• The teacher quickly rushed to the area and got chunks of nuggets which were awash by the river banks of Kasensele River after a heavy downpour last season. It was then that he picked some nuggets, sold and bought himself three second hand vehicles.
• Having raised curiosity, he disclosed his source of fortunes. Soon word went round and everyone descended on the area in search of the nuggets.
• President Lungu seeks to make the new found mineral accounted for. He has since instructed that the area be secured until formalities for authorized mining companies are tasked to dig the new fortune for Zambia.
• Zambia, being a signatory to various Southern African Development Community treaties is aware of the policy of beneficiation. Under the policy, Zambia should get a fair share of the gold earnings other than the investor to benefit the local people through jobs well as the community through Corporate Social Responsibility.