The Kwale County government has said public participation in mineral resource exploitation is mandatory for investors in the mining industry to avert frequent conflict with local residents.
The County Governor, Salim Mvurya asked mineral prospectors and miners to work ethically and always consult stakeholders and his government before starting their work for consent and guidance to avert conflicts.
“I urge miners to follow the law and to engage in proper stakeholder consultations to avoid mining disputes with residents,” he said.
Mvurya was speaking in Msambweni Sub-county where he assured residents from five villages namely Mchinjiirini, Fahamuni, Darigube, Kidzumbani and Gongonda that they will not be evicted to pave way for mining.
Majority of the villagers are opposed to the proposed extension of mining to the area by Australian mining firm, Base Titanium.
The matter, though, has split the residents as some of them are in support of the company’s expansion plan as its current mine life is coming to an end in four years’ time.
Mvurya asked the villagers not to allow the issue to divide them and instead continue co-existing peacefully, saying his government would do everything possible to protect their land rights.
“No one should be coerced to surrender their land for mining. Miners should consult landowners so that they can either accept or reject any offers willingly based on an informed decision,” he said.
He also asked the residents to ignore propaganda by some self-seekers that they will be moved from their homes.
The Governor said his government is in solidarity with the majority of the residents who have rejected the move by the company to carry out mineral prospecting on their land.
“The ongoing prospecting is actually illegal as it has no blessings of the county,” said Mvurya.
He said that his administration will write to the Mining Ministry demanding for an explanation as to why the prospecting license was issued without ample involvement of the locals.
He said everything possible would be done to avoid a repeat of mineral-related miseries in the region like those experienced by residents of Maumba and Bwiti where the company is currently conducting its Kwale mineral sands operations.
“Safeguard your land jealously. You will suffer alone if you recklessly give it away,” he warned residents, saying land tenure issues are explosive in the region and should be handled with caution.
He also called on security agencies to investigate claims by some villagers that they were receiving threatening calls due to their firm stand on the issue.