The government is attracting investments into the mining sector to help turn around the economy of the country.
Mining Principal Secretary (PS) Elijah Mwangi Mwangi has said the national government is committed to streamlining the lucrative mining sector to unlock its full potential through the Mining Act of 2016.
He says the Act adopted in 2016 is clear on the country’s vision for the responsible and sustainable development of the mining industry.
Mwangi said mining is expected to play an important role in supporting the country’s positive socio-economic growth and development.
He further noted that the mining law that replaced the Mining Act Cap. 306 of 1940, is expected to provide policy stability, promote sound mining, restore investors’ confidence and spur investment in the industry.
Speaking when he led members of the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Environment, Forestry and Mining, on a tour of the Base Titanium Kwale Mine Site, the PS said streamlining the extractive sector was crucial in ensuring it contributes significant revenue to the National Treasury
The MPs were led by the committee’s Vice-Chairperson, Charles Kamuren, who is also the MP Baringo South.
Also on the team were Commissioner of Mines and Geology, Raymond Mutiso, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Deputy Director, Field Operations, Robert Orina and Director of Ecological Restoration, Erick Akotsi, among senior government officials.
The leaders were on a familiarization visit to understand and have a glimpse of Base Titanium’s World Class Mining Operations, including its rehabilitation and ecological restoration on mined-out land.
Base Titanium that commenced production in 2013 operates on the Kenyan South Coast, extracting minerals mainly ilmenite, rutile and zircon and is accredited as a vision 2030 flagship mining project.
The leaders also had an opportunity to meet the communities living near the mine site and hear their views on how the Kwale Mine Project has helped them by developing sustainable community programs to improve their livelihoods.
Base Titanium’s External Affairs Manager, Dr. Melba Wasunna, who received the delegation said the Kwale based Australian owned mining firm is anticipating the National government will lift the moratorium on mining licenses to pave way for explorations and possible expansion of its operations in Kenya.
The freeze on issuance of licenses was put in place in 2019 to pave way for the large-scale mapping of the country’s mineral deposits.
The government soon after embarked on large scale minerals and extractive resource mapping across the country to help in identifying the location and size of new mineral deposits.
The mineral resource mapping is hoped to attract new exploration companies to locate ‘bankable’ strategic mineral deposits that are considered commercially viable and increase revenue from a potentially lucrative mining industry.
Deposits of rare minerals found in the country include coal, gypsum, fluorspar, rubies, Zircon gemstone, gold, sapphires, silver, titanium, manganese and other rare earth minerals besides holding gas reserves.
Dr. Wasunna said the mining firm is keen to further expand its operations, having applied for three prospecting licenses for Ramisi area in Msambweni Sub-county, Kuranzi area near the Kwale-Taita Taveta counties border and Lamu County.
‘We are pegging our hopes on the lifting of the moratorium because as things stand now, our current mine-life ends in October 2024,’ she said.
Dr. Wasunna contended that the mining firm is determined to ensure land disturbed by mining activities, is returned to a sustainable post-mining land use.
She said the mining firm’s agricultural projects currently comprising large scale potato and cotton farming for communities living near the mine sites, is intended to be the ‘engine room’ for community development that will outlast the life of the mine.
She said as the largest mine in Kenya, Base Titanium has been and continues to be a huge success, contributing about 65 per cent of Kenya’s mineral output value.
Base Titanium’s External Affairs Manager, said government revenues from Base are estimated at a total of Sh. 23 billion over the current mine life, with Sh.3.7 billion being spent annually on purchases from Kenya businesses by the company, which has employed more than 1,600 local people.
The PS said the Ministry of Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs is soon going to lift the moratorium, to ensure that the country continues to be a strong investment destination.
He said the government is working closely with all stakeholders to see the moratorium lifted, as soon as possible in a bid to unlock new investment and boost government revenues.
‘The moratorium probably negatively impacted on the mining sector development, but once we lift it we hope all applications will be processed quickly and efficiently,’ he said.
On his part, Kamuren said his Committee was of the view that Kenyans should be able to benefit from the country’s mineral resources and be empowered to participate in the exploration activities.
The Committee’s Vice-Chairperson encouraged mining firms in the country to add value to their products before it is shipped out, saying that this would benefit Kenya more in terms of job creation, income generation and poverty eradication ventures.
Source: Kenya News Agency