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Law review to quell Mining, Energy ministries rivalry

By Macharia Kamau | Jul 30th 2014 | 2 min read
By Macharia Kamau | July 30th 2014

The Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is making attempts to quell infighting between the ministries of Energy and Mining over the control of the vast coal reserves recently discovered at Mui Basin in Kitui County.

The Committee in a report said it would introduce changes to the Mining Bill once it gets to the Third Reading in Parliament making it clear that the Mining Ministry will handle mining of the mineral, but its mandate would end once this is done. Development would then be taken over by the Energy Ministry.

The Committee also proposed that clear distinction be made in the proposed Energy Bill, where the Energy Ministry would be charged with the management of the resource once it converts into energy. Currently, the proposed Energy Bill has clauses covering both the exploration and development of coal, which is seen as encroaching into Mining’s turf.

“In order to ensure that there is no overlap of functions of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and the Ministry of Mining and to ensure that resources are optimised the Committee agreed to separate coal from oil shale, shale gas and coal seam gas and retain the mining of coal in the Ministry of Mining, while the conversion of coal into energy will be dealt with by the Ministry of Energy.

The committee agreed to delete oil shale, shale gas and coal seam gas from First Schedule of the Bill,” said the Amina Abdalla led committee in a report.

The clarification of roles to be played by the two ministries comes after stakeholders raised concerns about possible overlapping of roles, especially in licensing, between the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as proposed under the Energy Bill and Ministry of Mining, which is responsible for regulating the mining industry under the Mining Bill.

“The stakeholders recommended that to avoid an overlap of functions, coal, and shale oil and shale gas should be deleted from the list of minerals which are regulated under the Ministry of Mining as it will be regulated by the Energy Bill,” said the committee in its report.

The Mui Basin is estimated to have hundreds of tonnes of coal, with two of the blocks estimated to contain over 400 million metric tonnes of the mineral. The Ministry of Energy spearheaded the exploration process that led to the discovery of coal over the last ten years.

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