By Alloys Musyoka
The national government has lifted a moratorium on mining and prospecting licensing across the county that was imposed in 2019 by former president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Base Titanium is one of the mining companies whose mining licence is coming to an end in 2024 and such a move will be good news as it plans to look for more areas to do mining.
Addressing the media in Nairobi, Cabinet secretary for Mining and Blue economy Salim Mvurya said that Titanium is among 56 minerals that fall under the category of Industrial and construction whose moratorium has been lifted.
He said that the cabinet met on Monday and made the decision to lift the moratorium after a lot of reforms have been put in place by his ministry.
“We have met our staff to brief them how they are going to operate the opening of licensing process,” he said.
Mvurya said that investors who have interest in prospecting and mining Titanium mineral in the country are free to apply for licences after lifting of the moratorium.
The cabinet also declared smuggling of minerals as an economic crime that is punishable as per the laws of the country in order to address issues of smuggling in the country.
Mvurya said that there have been many cases of mineral smuggling across the country which the government is out to bring to an end.
“The cabinet approved the establishment of a special unit in the ministry of mining to enforce compliance. The ministry of mining will be working with the Interior ministry and national police service to establish the unit,” said Mvurya.
Also approved, Mvurya said that Strategic minerals that are 14 across the country will be handled case by case basis on matters moratorium according to mining regulations.
‘These minerals are strategic because the government will apportion investment in terms of shares,” he added.
Mvurya also noted that the government has decriminalized artisanal mining and directed those concerned to form cooperative societies as they prepare for the issuance of license and permits.
He said that the ministry of mining will be training artisanal committees in the counties before licenses to cooperatives are issued.
“All mining investors with pending applications in the system have been directed to update their records relating to the company’s ownership, bank statement, tax compliance and program of work,” he added.
The CS noted that the government is in the process of upgrading the country’s mineral tasting laboratories after signing an MOU with the government of Indonesia to enhance capacity in tasting and sampling.
“Currently most of the samples are not done in the country but outside which encourages smuggling. So we are working to upgrade Madini lab and also working on decentralizing lab services to be done from the regions,” he noted.
Already he said that the ministry of mining has completed 20 per cent royalty sharing to county governments amounting to Sh2.9 billion that has been budgeted in the 2023-2024 budget for respective counties to be able to receive their rightful share of the 20 per cent.
“Very soon we shall declare the 10 per cent to communities after subjecting regulations on the same which has been ongoing,” he added.
The Moratorium on mining and prospecting of minerals in the country was imposed in 2019 by former president Uhuru Kenyatta although not through parliament as stipulated by the law.
It was meant to reduce land tussles on mineral areas and locals to have title to land and avoid conflicts.
Stakeholders in the mining sector had raised questions as to why Kenya defence forces did mapping of minerals in the country instead of professionals in the mining ministry.
According to Mvurya statement recently after taking over the mining docket, a survey done found that the country has about 970 minerals available.
It is estimated that the country has lost billions since the imposition of the moratorium since 2019 where about 800,000 artisanal miners continued doing illegal business since taxes were not paid.
Lifting of the moratorium is set to benefit investors who had interest in mining in the country and artisanal miners who have operated in the darkness for a long time.
Base Titanium has been doing exploration at the Kwale East as they continue mining the Kwale North Dune.