Kenya mining industry set for a boom


Lake Magadi
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  • Written by:

    Pratibha bissht

    pratibhabissht@mtkenyatimes.co.ke

    Mining in Kenya yields high grade quantities of gold, copper, ilmenite and tantalum. Kenya is also an important source of non metallic minerals including soda ash, lime stone, salt, niobium, fluorspar and fossil fuels.
    The Ministry of Mining was formed by the government after the country’s March 4th general elections to look into mining activities in the country. The Ministry under takes various functions aimed at enhancing growth of the mining sector in the country.
    The Ministry came about after the realization that the sector has the potential to significantly contribute to national and local growth. Over the last decade the amount of minerals extracted and exploited has been increasing.
    India’s Tata Chemicals partly owns Kenya’s largest manufacturer of soda ash the Magadi soda company.
    Mining experts and analysts say that in addition to gold deposits in Kenya also have base metal deposits such as copper, rare earth minerals and some coal. Most people think that the Kenya does not have the prospects of either Uganda or Tanzania. About 95 percent of the rock structures coming up from Tanzania. The aim is to make Kenya a regional hub for mining, as it is for financial services.
    While focusing on developing leisure, farming, manufacturing and service industries, until recent years mining exports only amounted to around 1 percent of the country’s GDP.
    The new legislation includes more details and provisions about the principles of land policy, public land, regulation of land use and property, environmental obligations and agreements relating to natural resources.
    When the act came into force, it was greeted as a new dawn for the industry, which is expected to make mining transparent, fair and profitable for both local and foreign investors.
    This act injects predictability and certainty that will fuel rapid expansion and sustainable development of the mining sector.
    There are also plans to set up a gemology centre in Voi Town, where gem stones will be given value to be exported.
    Mineral resources in Kenya include gold, iron ore, talc, soda ash, some rare earth minerals and gemstones. Gold is mostly restricted to the western most part of the country, while areas around Mombasa host lime stone, niobium, iron ore, gemstones and salt.
    Kenya has not been considered a particularly mineral rich country, but recent geological surveys have indicated that this assumption could have understated what’s actually available.
    During its first mining years, Kenya’s mineral deposits were predominantly titanium and non metallic substances such as soda ash, which is mined from Lake Magadi and used in the making of glassware, paper and industrial chemicals.
    This changed in recent years with the development of Kenya’s first ever large scale mine, the Kwale mineral sands project, in 2013. January 2012 saw the construction of the first Kenyan gold mine, Kilimapesa, and a particularly rich seam of coal has been found in Ukambani.
    The $300m Base Resources titanium mine is the only mine of its size in East Africa. If Kenya drums up enough interest in its mineral wealth, then several more could be built in the near future.
    The country has built up its wealth to be the largest East African economy from a diversity of industries, and so it is likely to remain strong regardless of its mining outcome. If it succeeds though, then the return could be substantial.
    Kenya is the economic, transport and financial of East Africa. Since 2014, Kenya has been ranked as a lower middle income country, as its per capita GDP crossed a World Bank threshold. Previously, The World Bank and IMF restricted aid to the country previously due to rampant corruption. Kenya has a growing entrepreneurial middle class and steady growth, but its economic development has been impaired by weak governance, political instability, corruption and violent clashes between rival parties since got independence in 1963.
    The natural resources of Kenya include oil, gas, lime stone, gypsum, soda ash, diatomite, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, wildlife, and hydro power. The country is gearing up to move from agriculture and tourism based economy to one that is based on mineral resources. Most of the mines and cement plants are privately owned.
    The mining sector in Kenya is all set to expand to a greater level in the coming years as the recent increase in global demand for minerals has seen several Australian and other mining companies seeking permission from the Kenyan government to explore its mineral reserves.
    The first ever large scale mine in the country, Kwale mineral sands mine operated by Base Resources of Australia will aid in spurring the growth of the country’s poorly developed mining sector.
    All these developments are very promising for the future of Kenya’s mining sector. It is now up to the government to sort out the internal political issues and pave the way for economic growth by strengthening its mining sector.

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