Kwale and Mombasa to reap big from titanium

Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, John Munyes [centre], General Manager External affairs at Base Titanium Simon Wall [right] and chairman Lunga Lunga Community Development Agreement Committees Bakari Mwakithestto [left] display signed documents during the launch of Community Development agreements Kwale and Mombasa Counties at Jacaranda Beach Hotel in South Coast on May 24, 2021. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Kwale and Mombasa counties could get up to Sh110 million annually for development projects from the sale of titanium.

This is after Base Titanium, the mining firm that is prospecting for minerals in Kwale, agreed to cede one per cent of revenue accrued from the sale of the minerals mined from the South Coast.

Yesterday, the miner and officials of the two counties signed an agreement that also paves way for the miner to explore for more minerals in Kwale.

The signing of the community development agreements was witnessed by the Cabinet Secretary for Petroleum and Mining, Mr John Munyes, in Diani, Kwale.

"This is an important milestone that will ensure equitable distribution as a result of large scale mining activities," said CS Munyes.

In the 2020 financial year, the Kwale-based miner generated earnings of Sh11.570 billion ($11.57m), which accounts for 65 per cent of Kenya's total mineral output value.

The management, however, said it will exhaust minerals at its current location of Maumba and Nguluku by mid-2023. Its plan to explore new sites was facing resistance from locals.

Opposition by locals and political leaders to exploration by the firm at the new sites in five Kwale villages threatened the future of the firm in the county. 

The main bone of contention has been the issue of land and benefits emanating from sale of the minerals through royalties. Yesterday, both parties agreed to the new deal.

With this, Base Titanium, which estimates the value of its investment in Kwale at Sh35 billion, will now be able to move to the new site at Bumamani in Kwale.

Residents of Likoni in Mombasa will benefit because the terminal used by Base Titanium to export the mineral is situated in the area.

The CS said that the operationalisation of the community development agreements will help in the identification of community projects that are expected to be funded by the mining firm.

Munyes said the community engagement was vital in entrenching the culture of dialogue, which is important in averting unnecessary conflicts that are associated with mining ventures.

The agreement in essence will see the mining company cede the one per cent of gross sales revenue, which will go towards development projects in Msambweni, which is the main mining area, Lunga Lunga where persons affected by the mining activities were resettled, and Mombasa that serves as the end point of the mineral transport corridor before export.

Base Titanium Community Relations Manager Pius Kassim said the journey towards realisation of the community development agreements has been long and several stakeholders were involved.

"This is pursuant to the Mining Act 2016 and Community Developments Agreement regulation 2017 that prescribes trickling down mining benefits to the host community, where a guaranteed mandatory amount from the license holder goes to supporting development projects," said Mr Kassim.

Kwale politician Mshenga Ruga, who also chairs the Msambweni community development committee, said they are delighted at the new prospects and the new arrangement to guide development projects and give locals a bigger say.

"We hope that our plea for more funding will be accepted from the time this new agreement was passed so as to bring faster development in areas that border mining," Ruga said.

Members of Parliament Mishi Mboko (Likoni), Kassim Tandaza (Matuga) and Msambweni's Feisal Badir were present.