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The Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas (MMPNG) has renewed the license of Midroc Gold Mine for Lege Dambi gold field by another decade after the first deal for developing the mine ends after 20 years. However the community living around there are protesting the renewal of the contract saying that the mine is affecting children around there.
The company owned by Sheik Mohammed Al-Amoudi requested the license renewal at the end of last budget year.
People living near the gold mine in have also demonstrated for a couple of days against the extension of contracts for MIDROC Gold, a company that has been extracting gold for the last two decades. The residents say chemicals released from the gold mine have posed health hazards and are responsible for many ailments including birth defects and disabilities.
Tewodros Gebreegziabher, State Minister of MMPNG, told the media that the ministry started discussions with the community in the area on how to continue the mining without affecting the area. He said that the concern and problem will be solved in collaboration with the community.
He further said that MIDROC, MMPNG and Addis Ababa University undertook the environmental impact assessment before the renewal.
Currently, Ethiopia has a single large-scale gold mine, the Midroc Gold Mine at Lega Dembi, Shakisso, Oromia Regional State, which is an operating open pit mine in Ethiopia.
The mine was privatized and awarded to Midroc Ethiopia in 1997. A mining license was awarded and a new company – Midroc Legadembi Gold Mine Share Company (Midroc Gold) commenced production in August 1998. It averages a yearly production totaling 4.5 tons. The Lega Dembi deposit is the largest gold producer in Ethiopia. It is situated in a late-Precambrian metamorphosed sediment of the N-S trending, volcano-sedimentary Megado belt, which forms part of the late-Proterozoic Adola granite-greenstone terrane in southern Ethiopia.