Features

Digging for tiny wealth in Zimba

NDANGWA MWITTAH, Zimba
ON THE London Metal Exchange, the price of tin is between US$18,184 and US$18,530 per tonne – that is thrice the price of copper.
Tin is a soft, silvery white metal with a bluish tinge. Mix it with copper, then you get bronze. Tin is widely used for plating steel cans used as food containers, in metals used for bearings, and in solder.
But here in Chilobe, somewhere in Zimba’s Mapatizya area, artisanal miners sweat it out and risk their lives to just get a kilogramme of the mineral, which they sell cheaply to buyers from the cities.
One of the miners is Estely Siambalo. She is a 42-year-old mother of seven.
She, together with her children, including her youngest child who is only seven, come to dig in the pits.
It is a dangerous venture and the miners do not wear any protective clothing.
Estely has to involve her children if she has to increase her chances of getting enough tin to sell and meet her family’s needs.
“On a day, if I am lucky, I can get a cup or two,” she says.
A cupful of tin is roughly about 200ml and can weigh about three kilogrammes. “We used to sell it at K35 per kilogramme,” says Estely. “But that is after the buyers have sieved and separated the bad ones from the good ones. So, sometimes, what you thought was three kilogrammes can even come CLICK TO READ MORE



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