The Government plans to create county licensing committees to help small-scale miners get licences more easily.
Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu said the ministry has embarked on a four-month exercise to issue artisanal miners with permits in accordance with the new Mining Act.
“We want to help them have elected representatives to sit in those committees and address their needs. This will ensure that millions of Kenyans who have been blocked from mining are assisted using a fast tracked exercise,” said Mr Kazungu at a press briefing in Nairobi on Tuesday.
Under the new arrangement, an artisanal mining committee in every county will be made up of eight members chaired by a representative of the area’s governor. The secretary will be a representative of the director of mines.
Other bodies that will be represented in the committees include Association of Artisanal Miners, the County Lands Board, National Environmental Management Authority and the Inspectorate Division of the Mining Ministry.
Terming the current process costly and complicated, the CS said investors have been grappling with the long process of getting licences before embarking on the labourious task of acquiring land from the owners.
This, he said, stems from the fact that the communities involved feel shortchanged in the negotiations.
However, with the committees, the CS is confident the challenges will ease.
East African Portland Cement Chairman Bill Lay said the country needs uniform regulations so that mineral wealth can be exploited in an organised manner.
“The biggest problem in Kenya is access to land. There is always someone living on that land or laying claim to the land you want to do mining on,” he said.
On royalty sharing, CS Kazungu assured host communities that they will get 10 per cent of the benefits while the county government pockets 20 per cent.
The lion’s share (70 per cent) will go to National Government.
Western Kenya is synonymous with small-scale mining of gold. Currently, Acacia Mining Company is exploring minerals in Vihiga, Kakamega, Siaya and Kisumu in a Sh4 billion project. Mr Kazungu promised the communities will not be exploited.
“If they (Acacia) find something exciting and want to set up a refinery industry, then they will sign a new contract,” he said.