Mining PS Elijah Mwangi (right) speaks after presiding over the inauguration of artisanal miners committees. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The government has announced plans to issue mining permits to artisanal miners operating within cooperatives as recommended by the newly established mining committees.

Speaking in Kakamega County after presiding over the inauguration of artisanal miners committees in eight counties, Mining Principal Secretary Elijah Mwangi emphasised that the move aims to formalise the sector, eliminate illegal mining, reduce accidents, and safeguard government revenue.

“We are activating the artisanal mining committees in every county to guide the regional mining directors regarding licensing,” stated Mwangi.

He highlighted the government’s commitment to improving the livelihoods of artisanal miners and targeting 10 per cent of royalties and one per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“We are also focusing on value addition initiatives, identifying key mining activities in each region, and attracting investors to establish facilities to enhance local livelihoods,” Mwangi explained.

He further disclosed plans for the commissioning of a gold refinery in Ikolomani, Kakamega County.

Additionally, laboratories will be constructed in Kakamega and Kisumu to facilitate value addition.

The PS revealed the government had closed 1,200 artisanal mines nationwide due to non-compliance with regulations, urging operators to obtain permits for legal operation.

Mwangi urged communities in Kakamega, Siaya, and Vihiga to welcome investors for gold exploration, assuring them that the government would ensure fair distribution of benefits and adherence to regulations.

“We want investors to improve our people’s living standards. Communities should allow exploration activities, and when mining begins, permits will be awarded in collaboration with county governments and local leaders,” he said.

Kakamega County Artisanal Miners Committee Chairman Patrick Ligami hailed the move as a step towards regulating the sector and ensuring local benefits from mining activities.

Sabatia MP Clement Sloya emphasised the need for  equitable distribution of benefits from mining activities.