State to set up Sh3 billion gold refinery in Kakamega

It is a relief to more than 15,000 artisanal miners as an investor is set to construct a Sh3 Billion Gold Refinery in Kakamega which is to be launched by President William Ruto.

The factory is to make mining shafts safer and reduce deaths. 

President William Ruto during the Interdenominational prayers in Kakamega said the government is done with the procurement process and he is engaging an investor on the construction of the refinery. 

"We have gambled for a long with our gold mining for our people, i want to announce that we have done with procurement, and in the next two to three months I will be launching the construction of the refinery in Kakamega which will tackle gold mining in the country what we are currently doing is that we are negotiating between Sh2billion and Sh3billion for the refinery because we have an investor already," said Ruto.

Mohammed Abdi Salaa of Stones of Life Investments an investor who has won the tender to construct the gold refinery, has already engaged all artisanal miners in Kakamega by giving them equipment and requisite resources to improve shaft mining which is the most common method of gold mining in parts of Kakamega County.

Under the arrangement, the investor is to meet the cost of mining equipment and construction of shafts then takes 75 percent of the proceeds while the miners pocket 25 percent. 

As a tradition where women do not enter the inside of the shaft, the tailings from the mines are to be given to women who do not go into the shafts three times a week for free.

Women are to make income by extracting remnant minerals the investor has constructed four shafts in the Rosterman area.

The company has also constructed a shaft for the elderly aged 60 and above and is still in mining where they share the proceeds on a 50-50 basis.

“The president has said that he wants youths to get jobs and that is what we are doing by creating jobs. We have employed over 1, 000 youths and we are going to open up a gold mining factory that is going to be the largest in Kenya in the next six months,” said Salaa.

He added he has constructed four gold mining shafts in the Rosterman area in Kakamega where 300 youths work in each for three shifts a day.

Salaa was speaking at Mwiba primary school in Likuyani where he handed over classrooms and a staff room which he renovated at a cost of Sh3m on Saturday.

Earlier on Kakamega Governor has been vocal on the state to construct a gold refinery in Kakamega opposing the idea of constructing the plant in Siaya county stating that Kakamega County has a lot of gold reserves.

"We know the national government had proposed to take and construct a gold refinery in Siaya but as Western leaders we have said that we must make mining as a top priority, we want to tell our President that we need a goldrefinery in Ikolomani because the people of Kakamega have a lot of gold reserves," Barasa said earlier.

The governor has welcomed the move by the President stating that the refinery will eliminate middlemen and put to an end exploitation by investors to artisanal miners.

"This will stop the harassment and exploitation of our artisanal miners and community and we are going to ensure our people are incorporated in all the government activities to benefit from the venture by acquiring training, requisite equipment, and good payment," he said.

Barasa had called for the temporary suspension of ShantaGold Company's operations until the welfare and safety of artisanal miners were guaranteed.

"During the public participation we decided that the investor of Shanta Gold Company has to stop all its operations in Ikolomani until we know how our people are going to benefit,” said Barasa.

According to Mining and Blue Economy Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya, Artisanal mining contributes about 20 percent of earnings from the sector 

The Mining Act 2016 provides for the sharing of royalties from gold mining based on 70, 20, and 10 percent for the national government, county government, and the community respectively. 

 The national vice chairman of the Artisanal and Small-scale Miners Association of Kenya (ASMAK) Patrick Ligami said that the new dimension makes everyone including the miners and the community benefit from the minerals in their midst besides making the mines safer for the miners. 

“Most of the deaths resulting from accidents in the mines occur because the artisanal miners lack resources for requisite equipment and construction of proper shafts and this is what the investor is helping us deal with,” he said.

 Ligami said that the investor has initiated group activities by the community where he has procured tents and chairs for a women's group to generate cash and is in the process of establishing a poultry farm for another.

 “This is a break from the past where the communities in the areas where mining was going on remained spectators while deaths were the order of the day,” he said.

 He said that the investor has committed to establish a mental health hospital at Rosterman on request by the county government of Kakamega.

 “We thank our governor for Kakamega Fernandes Barasa for the support he has given, includingj providing working space for the investor to create the much-needed jobs in line with his six-point agenda for transformation of Kakamega County,” Ligami said.

He said that over 60 percent of households in Ikolomani depend on gold mining as their main income-generating activity. 

There are more than 15, 000 small-scale and artisanal miners in Kakamega county alone, with more than 300 shafts, The Ikolomani sub-county has 250 shafts

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