Kenya's old gold mines and oil fields which yield zero

Gold mining in Migori District in 1980s. [File, Standard]

Kenya’s quest for mineral deposits and the millions that come with it have been long and sustained for 78 years.

One of these quests had quite some startling findings which if they had been pursued further and commercialised could have yielded a lot of gold.

In a reconnaissance conducted in 1946 that covered and mapped 58,470 square miles with the assistance of aerial photographs, the geologists placed gold deposits in Western Kenya and Mt Kenya.

In their report published in Colonial Geological Survey 1947-1956, the expert indicated: "In western Kenya, the mapping of the known goldfields has been completed in reasonable detail, and several carbonatite complexes have been mapped, including that discovered by the Geological Survey at Mrima Hill, in Coast Province."

The report further stated: "The goldfields consisted predominantly of non-crystalline pre-Cambrian rocks which have not yet been found further east in Kenya. Two series, apparently younger than the Basement System and which may be comparable with the goldfields rocks, have however been found — one in Embu, and the other in northeast Kenya.

The geologists offered no details of the number of gold deposits likely to be buried in Western and Embu or whether they were of commercial value.

Interestingly though were their reports of the existence of oil in Northern Kenya and how some oil companies had been exploring the precious commodity.

According to the survey, “Considerable attention has been paid to the mapping of possible oil-bearing areas, and, as a result, some oil companies have carried out preliminary examinations of part of north-east Kenya. Work has also been carried out in south-east Kenya, where a large oil company took out a licence in 1954 to explore for oil.”

The researchers indicated that their survey has not concentrated its attention on water supply, explaining that this mandate fell in another department that was solely responsible for such work.

Ironically, although their work had the potential of minting millions in the event they found sufficient mineral deposits whose extracted could be commercialised, the 16 geologists involved in the survey complained of experiencing difficulties in securing resources to print their maps.

The oil deposits they talked about almost eight decades ago have not yet been exploited and Kenyans still pay top dollar for petrol and diesel, pushing up the cost of manufacturing.