Vermiculite is heat-resistant and it is used in the manufacture of car parts as well as in the making of fertilizers. The deposits in Manafwa are said to be some of the richest in the world.
Mining for the mineral started in Bugisu region about a decade ago. The local population, rather than celebrate the mineral wealth in their region, have been exposed to health and environmental hazards resulting from the unregulated mining.
In this edition, National Perspective’s Michael Wambi investigates the environmental problem that the mine has become. Clouds of dust from the mining can be seen from almost 10kms away from the site. The population around the mine cannot harvest rain water nor eat vegetables as a result of the dust.
There are also controversies about the mining waste. While the miners say the waste is enriching to land for agriculture, some members of the public complain that they don’t want it dumped in their gardens.
This edition also explores issues of mineral wealth sharing as well as regulation.