Australian mining firm, Base Titanium, has denied claims by a section of Kwale residents and leaders that it has not been undertaking stakeholder consultations before embarking on mineral exploration in the county.
Through its acting General Manager, External Affairs, Simon Wall, the company sought to set the record straight by asserting that it undertakes an extensive community participation programme that entails working closely with the county leadership among other stakeholders.
The firm was issued with a prospecting license PL/2015/0042 in December 2018 targeting areas around Vanga in LungaLunga Sub-county.
“Following the issuance of the license, we undertook an extensive community engagement programme that involved working closely with the county leaders and administrative officials,” said Mr. Wall in a statement on Thursday.
The programme, he said, also involved extensive engagements with local residents to explain what exploration is and the impact.
“These consultations were aimed at obtaining consent from landowners and residents, which is a legal requirement since Base does not enter into someone’s property to drill a hole without consent,” he added.
Further, the company said community engagements in areas that it is yet to drill will continue as it thanked all levels of Kwale leadership and local resident who positively contribute to the success of the entire process.
The mining firm is undertaking exploration as it seeks to find additional mineral deposits with the aim of expanding its Kwale mineral sands project since the life of the current mine at Maumba and Nguluku areas ends in four years’ time. It also plans to further drill in Kiwegu, Jego in Vanga ward before moving to Pongwe in Kikoneni ward, then to Mchinjirini, Darugube, Fahamuni and Kidzumbani in Ramisi ward, among other areas in South East Kwale towards the Tanzanian border.
However, the company’s expansion plan has provoked a lot of criticism from locals including the County Governor, Salim Mvurya hence the statement to clear the air.
The company’s reaction comes a week after Mvurya and his Deputy Ms. Fatuma Achani warned mineral prospectors and miners to work ethically and always consult stakeholders and the county government for consent and guidance to avert conflicts.
“I urge miners to follow the law and to engage in proper stakeholder consultations to avoid mining disputes with residents,” he said at Ramisi where they had gone to quell building tension among locals over anticipated drilling in the area.
By James Muchai