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State enhances surveillance of mineral exports to curb smuggling

 Artisanal miners help their peer descend into a mine shaft. [Benard Lusigi, Standard]

The government will strengthen monitoring systems to check the compliance standards for the documentation of mineral exports and imports at the port of Mombasa.

Mining Principal Secretary Elijah Mwangi said this was part of reforms aimed at eradicating the smuggling of minerals through the port.

Mwangi noted that the port is a strategic gateway in the region for investors in the mineral exportation and importation business. The PS said, this calls for enhanced surveillance to ensure compliance standards as prescribed by the Mining Act 2016.

Speaking in Mombasa during a meeting with mining officials in the region over modalities of establishing robust mineral checks, Mwangi underscored the significance of appropriate documentation for minerals passing through the port.

He explained that enhanced vigilance protects the country against losing revenue through under-declaration or misdeclaration of minerals by smugglers.

“The port is a critical facility in the mineral export and import business for investors in this sector. Our main role and call are to confirm and authenticate the correctness and validity of the documents and verification issued to players in this sector before minerals leave or come in,” he said.

Since the completion of the national aerial geophysical survey that led to the discovery of 970 mineral occurrences in the country, Kenya has been positioning herself as an emerging powerhouse in mineral processing and trading in the region.

In the 2022/23 financial year, Kenya’s mineral exports were at 5.9 per cent with a total export value of approximately Sh63 billion.

With the sector currently contributing one percent to the national GDP, the mining reforms are expected to increase the contribution to at least 10 percent.

“The government should receive its rightful share of revenue from mineral resources. We hold this resource in trust for Kenyans. Royalties paid go to the communities and counties and our duty is to make sure Kenyans get their revenue from minerals,” said the PS.

The 2022 Economic Survey projects that the mining sector is set to experience exponential growth. In 2021, the total value of minerals produced in Kenya increased by 33 per cent from Sh22.7 billion in 2020 to Sh30.2 billion in 2021.

The report also indicates that exports of minerals like Titanium and concentrates have been rising steadily over the years.

With the anticipation of opening up the international market for several minerals including manganese, Kenya is expected to experience a surge in mineral export-oriented businesses to meet the demand of the global market.

The Kenya Chambers of Mines chairman, Patrick Kanyoro said mineral surveillance should further be extended to all ports of entry in Kenya.

“Smuggling is not healthy for the economy. Because over-regulation through fees and levies might be counterproductive for the sector, the best way is to work with stakeholders to craft sustainable measures to curb smuggling and help the industry attain robust growth,” he said.

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