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Kenya to map mineral resources

BUSINESS
By Philip Mwakio | Jan 24th 2016 | 3 min read
By Philip Mwakio | January 24th 2016
BUSINESS

Kenya is set to embark on large scale mapping across the country in a bid to help identify location and size of new mineral deposits. Newly-appointed Mining Cabinet Secretary  Dan Kazungu says in-depth geological surveys will help in providing ‘objective geological expertise and information’ about the country’s diverse mineral resources and ‘what the economics of mining these resources may be’.

Mr Kazungu said this during a tour of the $350 million (Sh36 billion) Kwale Mineral Sands mines, part of the Base Titanium mines in Kwale County. Kazungu was taken on a tour of the Sh400 million Port loading facility located at Likoni which is exclusively for exports of titanium products. The CS said there was need to develop maps and other data products to assist government agencies, mining companies, consultants and the public in recognising, developing and protecting important mineral resources. “The government is not here to frustrate you. In fact we want other potential mining firms to follow suit just like the way Base Titanium has done,’’ he said.

The CS encouraged the miners to add value to their products before it is exported. Only four per cent of the country’s territory has been mapped since independence making it difficult to know how ‘endowed we are in terms of minerals’, he noted. “As a country we could be sitting on rich troves of minerals thus we need to have a comprehensive, relevant and accessible information base to enhance the sustainability of mineral resources,’’ explained the CS.

Kenya is not considered mineral-rich even though recent geological surveys indicate that the country’s mineral wealth could have been underestimated. Viable reservoirs of oil and gas were identified in Turkana and Lamu and a particularly rich seam of coal has been found in Kitui and Kwale counties.

He said the mining industry only represents one per cent of the country’s gross domestic product ‘due in part to the poor mining regulations that continue to deter investor interest’. Consequently, he says a proposed new mining law will provide policy stability. The new mining code will reform the country’s mining regulations from the ground up and level the playing field for industry players and restore investor confidence in a sector that is essential for the development of a modern economy, he observed. “The new Mining Bill will replace the 1940 Mining Act and usher in a new era for mining in the country,” he said.

Mr Simon Wall, the External Affairs Manager at Base Titanium, said the project was based on a mine life of 13 years. Over the first six years, production is expected to ramp up to produce an annual average of 80,000 tonnes of rutile, 360,000 tonnes of ilmenite and 30,000 tonnes of zircon, making Base Titanium a significant producer of mineral sands products.

The new CS visited Taita Taveta County where he met with small scale miners before making his way next week to Transmara and Nandi Counties to meet miners involved in prospecting of gold.

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