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Expansion of manganese mining to boost economic growth

When one branches off Mombasa-Nairobi Highway into Voi-Taveta-Holili road, a short drive of about 7km leads to Mariwenyi in the Mwatate sub-county.

During the dry season, Mariwenyi is an expansive land of emptiness and one would wonder how residents survive. But the adage that, ‘looks are deceiving’ holds true about this place.

Beneath the surface, Mariwenyi is a hotbed of manganese ore that could be commercially extracted for the next 50 to 100 years according to explorations by Universal Resources International Limited, an Australian mining company with a presence at Taita Taveta.

The Universal Resources International Limited Director Steve Kimanyi said that the company has been since 2019 prospecting for more manganese beyond the two square kilometre land under their lease and has unearthed a massive resource of the metal within Ndara B Ranch.

“Since acquiring the lease for a two square kilometre land for manganese mining at Mariwenyi Mbambarenyi, Kalambe, and Mwangea areas; we’ve continued to explore for more of the metal within Ndara B Ranch. Our hunt has unearthed massive manganese resources,” said Kimanyi.

At its current mining area, the company aims to extract 100, 000 manganese ore annually for export. With eyes set on more than 300 square kilometres of land at Ndara B Ranch, the extraction output can increase, with a potential for more jobs for the locals.

With the approval of landowners and support from both the county and national government, manganese mining holds the potential to employ thousands of locals as well as contribute to the county’s economic growth and the national revenue kitty.

“We’re talking to the ranch owners and locals about the land as well as the county and national government’s approval and support for this economic-viable venture. Thousands of jobs will be created from casual to technical people from among the locals. A revenue flow to the county and national government will be created and it’s a good thing for the economy,” added Kimanyi.

On top of jobs for the locals and monthly financial remittances to individual landowners, the national government is set to collect in the excess of Sh98million of royalties each month if the mining project is expanded.

Kenya being a default agricultural nation has lagged in the space of mining, with massive resources sitting idle on chunks of land around the country.

In recent years, the national government has ramped up efforts to expand the mining sector with favorable policies for investors and a conducive environment to benefit grass-root populations.

In the first quarter of 2021, mining and quarrying injected Sh. 45.4 billion into Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product. Thanks to the enabling environment, Kenya’s mining and quarry sector expanded by 25 percent in the third quarter of 2021.

To show commitment to Kenya’s path to a global mining hub, President Uhuru Kenyatta established the first-ever Ministry of Mining in 2013, with the main objective to grow the contribution of extractives to the country’s GDP.

With an upward trend, mining and quarrying in Kenya can be an alternative impetus to a diverse economy, job creation for youths, and propelling the country to an industrialized nation.

By Arnold Linga Masil

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