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County to lobby for gemstone value addition plant

Turkana county government has expressed its commitment to the establishment of a gemstone value addition center in the area to help artisanal miners fetch better prices for their precious stones.

            Addressing participants in a training program on gemstone value addition Monday, the county Chief Officer for Water Services, Environment and Mineral Resources Moses Natome said the county has a large variety of mineral resources including sapphire, garnets, Rhodolites and Jade to sustain the center with raw materials.

Natome added that the center will transform the gemstone industry in Turkana County and beyond and also supplement the Voi gemstone centre in revamping the mining industry in Kenya.

 The chief officer said precious stones have been lost to unscrupulous dealers and apparent lack of information on their value by locals, hence the need for establishment of such a centre in the mineral-rich county.

While appreciating the resolve of the County Government in serving artisanal miners under their jurisdiction by exposing them to the requirements of the Mining Act 2016 and training them on value addition, Acting Director for Mineral promotion and value addition in the state department of Mining Evans Masachi said the county was on the right track in ensuring artisanal miners do not drop out of the industry due to ignorance.

            Masachi said that Turkana had the potential of tapping into its rich beaded culture as ready market for its products through simple processes like tumbling, cabochon smoothing and facetting.

Manager for Voi Gemstone centre Edward Omito said the collaboration between county government of Turkana and his centre will help expose artisanal miners to basic geology, stones identification and appraisals as well as pricing in the local and international market.

The training was also attended by Director of Mineral Resources Stella Opakas, Deputy director of Mineral Resources Duncan Kimwele and Gemologist Brian Bundi among others.

by Peter Gitonga

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