Shanta Gold, a gold exploration company from the United Kingdom, is facing opposition from residents in the Lirhanda Belt over allegations of hidden agendas, particularly in how it conducts its operations.

Locals accuse the company of extracting gold samples from the area without disclosing the results. They argue that Shanta Gold is competing with thousands of locals who rely on mining for their livelihoods.

“My parents depended on this activity. Today, I have my own family, and I have never done any other work apart from mining. This is the only source of income that our family relies on. If Shanta Gold competes with us, then we will continue to suffer,” said John Aliero, a resident of Isulu area in Ikolomani.

Shanta Gold claims that there is gold worth 171 billion shillings in the Isulu-Bushiangala belt, which borders Ikolomani through the Shinyalu constituency.

Areas rich in gold deposits in the Lirhanda Belt include Malinya, Rosterman, Shirumba, Kilingili (along the Iguhu River), Shipeso, Isulu, Bushiangala, and Sigalagala.

A report by Shanta Gold indicated that Kakamega alone has gold worth 200 billion shillings, while the Ramula-Mwibona area, located on the border of Luanda and Gem constituencies in Vihiga and Siaya counties, has gold estimated at 61.81 billion shillings.

However, residents of these areas claim that the company has hidden agendas.

In early 2024, Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa urged the company to halt its operations until appropriate guidelines outlining clear terms of cooperation between the company and the locals are established.

The Governor directed the company to cease operations and engage with his administration to agree on how the residents would benefit from the gold refining business.

According to Governor Barasa, this move was intended to align the interests of the investor with the efforts of the devolved unit to strike a balance between economic development and safeguarding the interests of the locals.