State to revoke 1,500 mining licences issued to 'speculators'

Machine used by gold diggers at Dabel gold mining site. [Jacob Muasya, Standard]

The government has revoked over 1,500 licenses held by mining firms that had failed to meet the set conditions. 

The Ministry of Mining said some of the firms that have been issued with permits to prospect or undertake mining activities had been speculators waiting to sell them off and had not made investments as required by the terms of their licenses.

Mining Principal Secretary Elijah Mwangi said the ministry instituted an audit on all mineral permits and licenses that aimed at identifying idle and speculative companies.

“If you have a permit or a license, you must demonstrate the compliances in order to retain it. In this category, we have identified over 1,500 licenses that are non-compliant," he said.

"The freed areas shall be available for award to new applicants." 

Mr Mwangi spoke Monday when he opened the three-day Kenya Mining Week. He said the cleanup was also aimed at removing expired licenses from the mining register.

Mapping resources

The PS also said the ministry had concluded a process of mapping out the country’s mineral resources through an airborne survey, during which it identified a total of 970 mineral occurrences, many of them concentrated around 15 counties.

It has now embarked on the processes of validating the findings of the survey.

“You may note that the National Airborne Geophysical Survey has been concluded. The report identifies 970 mineral occurrences across the country,” said Mwangi.

Among the minerals found through the survey include coltan, copper, nickel, rare earth elements, manganese and uranium.

The cleanup of the mining cadaster and the airborne survey were among the reasons the State suspended the issuance of new licenses to mining companies.

Existing firms have, however, been getting renewals on their licenses but they cannot increase the scope of their operations beyond areas covered by current licenses.

The moratorium on issuance of new mining and exploration licenses has been in place since November 2019. The Mining ministry has in the past said this was done on the advice of the National Security Council.

The freeze has resulted in minimal investments in the industry

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