State to tap into new deposits as minerals found in 20 counties

The site at Kiabiraa in Manga, Nyamira County where secret limestone mining activities have been going on. [Stanley Ongwae, Standard]

Some 20 counties have been found to have minerals and earth metals, Mining Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya has revealed.

Mvurya said Narok, Kakamega, Migori and Busia counties have gold occurrences, while Kitui and Vihiga counties were found to have deposits of copper and granite respectively.

Mvurya said the counties have been found to have deposits of minerals and earth metals as the ministry moves to scale up mapping out other areas across the country.

Other counties listed to have minerals include Makueni and Taita Taveta which have copper; as well as Kericho, Nandi, West Pokot, Embu and Isiolo were found to have high occurrences of coltan. Iron and graphite minerals were discovered in some areas of Kitui, Embu and Tana River counties.

Speaking after a meeting with regional mining officers and top officials from the ministry, Mvurya said the government is looking to tap into the mineral potential for the generation of revenues and job creation.

"Mining activities over the years have largely gone on uncoordinated. This has made mining not a very good business," said Mvurya.

The CS noted that currently, Kenya is losing a lot in mining revenue because most of the minerals are exported raw while in return, Kenyans import processed minerals.

As a result, the Mvurya-led ministry has identified key priority areas to streamline the mining sector including geo-surveying for mineral data, seamless licensing process, empowering artisanal miners and establishment of a mining laboratory.

"The mining sector has a huge untapped potential and for a long time, the mining offices were only issuing licenses but that is about to change," he added.

According to the CS, a geo-surgery report on mineral resources in the country has identified about 970 mineral occurrences across the country, findings he said would be subjected to a fact-finding process.

For a start, the ministry is focusing on 15 counties which were identified to have significant deposits of minerals to ascertain their existence.

The counties include Turkana, Kwale, Kilifi, West Pokot, Taita Taveta, Embu, Nandi, Kericho, Homa Bay, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kitui, Isiolo, Samburu, Tana River and Makueni.

"Once we complete streamlining the online cadaster of licensing and issuance of permits, we will decentralise the function to the counties," said Mvurya.

Further, the CS noted that they are establishing a functional mining laboratory at the Ministry's head offices.

"These lab services will also be decentralised in the regions so that confirmation on the quality of minerals can be done on the ground," he added.

The mission to reignite the sector will also see artisanal miners get proper training, permits and licenses as well as getting access to markets for mineral products.

"We have decided to decriminalise artisanal mining. There are about 800,000 Kenyans doing mining activities across the country and we have embarked on a process to organise them into cooperative societies," said the CS.

So far, some 200 groups of artisanal miners have been listed for transformation into cooperative societies.

As the State eyes revenues from the mining sector, Mvurya said mineral value addition and processing will be vital in the creation of jobs and boosting revenue streams.

Counties which have been earmarked for mining activities will get a 20 per cent share earned from mining revenues through the Additional Grant Act.

Meanwhile, the local communities living in the areas with mineral deposits will get 10 per cent of the revenue.

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