Kakamega County Government has handed over 14 acres of land to the National Government’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mining for establishment of a gold refinery.
Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said the handing over of the parcel of land was in preparation for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to launch the project.
He said that once completed, the project would transform the lives of Kakamega residents and citizens of Kenya.
“This is a great opportunity and a memorable occasion, as this refinery will be a game changer to our people and the addition of value in the mining industry not only in Kakamega County and the Lake Region Economic Bloc, but also in the entire nation,” he noted.
Speaking during the handing over ceremony at Igukhu in Kakamega, Governor Oparanya said the gold refinery would efficiently facilitate and ensure economic exploitation of gold within the Western Region.
The Governor explained that in the past five years, the Acasia mining company has been prospecting for gold in Kakamega and concluded that there exists an estimated gold occurrence of 1.1million ounces.
The high value gold deposits have been identified in Ushiuru, Bushiangala and Rostaman areas.
Further, the company discovered high grade gold deposits and estimated that the mines at the Lirhanda Corridor in Kakamega are a source of 1.3million ounces of gold whose grade is one of the highest quality in Africa estimated at Sh171 billion.
Governor Oparanya noted that Kakamega County has the oldest mining sites dating back to 1930 to the late 1950, when mining activities ceased due to depletion of economic reserves, technical and operational problems and increasing production costs.
To date, Oparanya said, Kakamega remains one of the counties with registered occurrences of gold deposits among other counties of West Pokot, Samburu, Narok, Turkana, Nandi, Siaya, Migori, Homabay and Marsabit.
In 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a Presidential directive to the State Department of Mining to ensure promotion of value addition in the mining sector.
“In the Presidential directive, several minerals were targeted including soapstone processing in Kisii County, granite processing in Vihiga and gemstone in Taita Taveta County,” Governor Oparanya noted.
To realize this, Oparanya noted that the establishment of a gold refinery would support value addition to gold mining in Kakamega and the whole of Kenya, spurring economic growth.
“The proposed site of the refinery will have a processing plant to separate gold from the ore, a refinery to purify the gold, an office block and an office centre, an ICT Centre, a Health Centre and a training facility,” he added.
A representative of the investor, Khanifa Hassan, said the company would work with local residents to uplift their lives.
Ikolomani Member of Parliament (MP), Bernard Shinali, urged the County and the National Governments to work together to ensure that the factory is established.
He said the factory would be a game changer whose positive impact would be felt across the country.
By Edwin Ambani