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New mineral finds bring ray of hope to Taita Taveta County

NEWS
By Pascal Mwandambo | May 5th 2014 | 3 min read
By Pascal Mwandambo | May 5th 2014
NEWS

By Pascal Mwandambo

Taita Taveta, Kenya: The recent discovery of massive deposits of titanium, copper, iron ore, manganese and limestone in Taita Taveta County estimated to be worth trillions of shillings is set to redefine the economic fortunes of this hitherto backwater county.

Chairman of Tsavo Minerals Organisation, Constantine Mwadime, revealed that the latest research by experts in geophysics have shown that 80 per cent of Taita Taveta land mass holds mineral of precious and semi-precious nature.

“Geological surveys indicate that the county has industrial mineral worth trillions of shilling enough to contribute to the national budget,” Dr Mwadime said during an exclusive interview with The Standard.

He said surveys have indicated that an area of 10 square kilometers in the county holds up to 25 billion tonnes of iron ore.

“With a tonne going for Sh9,000, we are talking of trillions of shillings enough to sustain the national budget and the county budgets for several years” revealed Mwadime who is also a minerals researcher and industrialist. Towards this end plans are now afoot to put up an iron ore and copper smelting centre on 3,000 acres of land near Maungu along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.

The initiative, to be known as Taita International Industrial Park is a collaborative effort between an Irish firm, Tricel Resources of which Mwadime is the county director and a Kenyan subsidiary of a South African company Liketh Investments.

Mwadime said the initial challenge was getting energy to provide smelting energy but now this has been sorted out following the discovery of huge coal deposits at Taru along the Mombasa- Nairobi highway some kilometres from Maungu.

Thousands of jobs

“The industrial park will generate thousands of jobs for locals as well as ensuring the iron ore gets value addition compared to when it is exported in raw form,” he said. The smelting plant will also be a big boost for Mombasa economy as it would provide smelted iron, which can then be rolled in the town where there is an iron rolling company.

“Taita-Taveta people need not languish in poverty forever as these resources are there God-given right. The major challenge is acquiring the huge capital investments for mining and donors willing to partner with local communities for mutual benefit,” said the minerals researcher.

Iron ore mining in Taita-Taveta is one of the key economic sectors which could generate much needed revenue for the county and country.

However, controversies surrounding land ownership have been a fly in the ointment as one investor has been locked in land wrangles with locals. This, however, should not cloud the bigger picture as the county is set to be among the leading producers of industrial minerals and gemstones in the Coast region. Taita-Taveta environment and natural resources executive Elijah Mwandoe says the County government will provide incentives to small scale miners and in particular women groups so that they can improve their standards of living.

Capital investments

Mwandoe said the county was ready to welcome mining investors who were willing to partner with locals in the mining sector which requires huge capital investments.

He challenged the national Government to ensure security in the mines to create a conducive working environment and spur investor confidence.

“It’s a good idea if a police post is created near the mines to ensure that thieves who invade the mines to steal gemstones are kept at bay” said Mwandoe.

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