Mvurya revokes 3,000 illegal mining licences as ban is lifted

Cabinet Secretary of Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Salim Mvurya with two of his Principal Secretaries, and other Ministry oficials addressing media yesterday at Transcom House, Nairobi. [James Wanzala, Standard]

Some 3,000 illegal mining operations have been stopped, Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya has said.

The Ministry has also profiled illegal miners and mineral dealers with a view of closing all their operations.

"Enforcement has been beefed up through the Regional Mining Offices. The Ministry is setting up an enforcement team consisting of a police unit in collaboration with other government agencies in fighting the vice," said Mvurya.

He added: "Artisanal mining activities have been decriminalised, directed to form marketing cooperatives for consideration on issuance of artisanal mining permits by artisanal mining committees. Consideration shall be on miners in marketing cooperatives or groups."

To date, he said over 200 artisanal groups have been formalised awaiting issuance of mining permits.

''The Committees have been operationalised in all the 19 regions with the terms of expired committee renewed and submitted for gazettement,'' he said.

Mvurya spoke during a briefing in his office at Transcom House in Nairobi.

He was speaking on reforms that the Ministry has been carrying out in the mining sector since the ban on mining was put in place in December 2019.

During the moratorium, Mvurya said the government undertook significant reforms that has continued to inspire the mining sector and make it viable, economical and achieve aspirations of contributing 10 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030.

Mvurya said ban was lifted on Tuesday after cabinet meeting. However, he said it will be done in phases.

He said that the moratorium has been lifted on all construction and industrial minerals consisting 56 minerals types.

All other minerals, he said have been classified as strategic minerals as per section 16 (1) and section 31(d) of the Mining Act, 2016.

It has 14 mineral types including radio-active minerals like Uranium, Thorium, Cobalt, Tantalum, Lithium, Coltan, Niobium, Copper, Nikel, Graphite, Tin, Tsavorite, Chromite and Rare Earths.

Mvurya said the strategic minerals mining rights shall be processed on a case-by-case basis as per the Mining (Strategic Minerals) Regulations, 2017.

CS said a special police unit shall be seconded to the State Department for Mining by the National Police Service.

''Mineral smuggling has been declared an economic crime and punishable as such," he said.

As part of the reforms, all applicants with pending applications shall have to update their records relating to their company ownership (CR12), bank statements, tax compliance certificates and programme of work.

All transporters of minerals must obtain mineral road transport permit from the Regional Mining offices and the officers must witness loading of minerals.

The Regional Mining Officers shall seal mineral containers and opening must be witnessed by an Inspector of Mines.

The State Department shall have officers in all port of entry and exit to authenticate mineral consignments and has directed all gemstone dealers in Voi to operate from the Voi Gemstone and Value Addition Centre.

''Mineral markets shall be opened in all region to facilitate trade and all mineral dealers shall be required to operate from the set markets," said the CS.

During the period, the CS said they have substantially completed the National Wide Airborne Geophysical Survey (NAGS) and production of a preliminary report that identified 970 mineral occurrences across the country.

"We are currently conducting Ground Truthing and Confirmatory Field Work on the identified mineral deposit occurrences to confirm their existence, quality and quantity in 16 counties," he said.

For transparency in issuance of mineral rights, he said the State Department of Mining has taken measures to ensure that the Online Mining Cadastre (OMC) is operational.

This, he said will enhance accountability and openness in the process of awarding licenses and permits.

The Ministry, the CS said has also initiated plans to encourage in-country mineral processing and value addition following realisation of the immense benefits of exporting finished products.

''Towards this end, the ministry has developed a Mineral Value Addition and Processing Policy. Every region has been mapped to a value addition venture depending with their abundance," he said.

He added: "Voi Gemstone Centre has been refurbished, opened and trading booths leased out to traders for value addition and marketing, further a directive has been issued that all gemstone trading be carried inside the centre.''

Additionally, the Ministry, he said has initiated mineral value addition centres called Kakamega Gold Refinery - in Kakamega, Granite Processing Plant in Vihiga and revival of Fluorspar factory in Elgeyo Marakwet.

Within the reforms period, he said the State Department has undertaken a comprehensive audit of all mineral right holders with a view to rooting out non-compliant rights.

The government has revoked 1,546 licences that do not meet the conditions of licensing.

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