Since 1995 when the mining/quarry corporations moved their operations across the river, the community of Ngweya have adopted the mine and been quarrying stone selling it for building works and paving.
It supports 405 families who excavate the quarry and crush the stones by hand. A “pile of stones” which is roughly 1 ton takes a week to make. And is sold for approximately $10, and earnings are dependent upon there being a buyer. In addition to the families who take the stone from the quarry there are approximately 50 young men who benefit by being paid for loading the stone onto vehicles as and when the stone is sold.
The community use heavy steel pipes to split the rock from the quarry wall, then bring the large pieces of stone from the quarry floor to the top by wheelbarrow, where the stone is crushed using a hammer into smaller pieces for building stone. It’s very noticeable that the majority of the workers are women.
The quarry has been community operated now for 26 years but has a finite life span. According to Annie, the community mines/quarry Chairperson, they have already been advised by the Ministry of Mines to make alternative plans for income generation when the quarry is no longer. She observed that the quarry certainly doesn’t have the capacity to support the community for another 26 years.
One potential idea is to turn the quarry into fish ponds, this however would take some finances and expertise that the community haven’t yet obtained.