The State Department of Mining has embarked on a programme to sensitize communities in Nyanza region about limestone mining to curb cases of exploitation as local and international companies angle for a slice of the rich natural resource.
Limestone mining for cement production has taken root in Kisumu and its environs with residents raising concerns over exploitation by the multinational companies involved in the business.
Nyanza Regional Mining Officer Ben Bera said the sensitization program is meant to build the capacity of the community on the existing legal framework and ensure that the investors operate within the set regulations.
He said the sensitization will benefit the community by ensuring that they are protected from exploitation as more investors trickle into the area.
“The aim is to ensure that mining activities are carried out procedurally according to the Cement Minerals Levy Regulations Act 2013 to generate revenue for the government and at the same time benefit the local community,” Bera said.
He said the Mining Department has partnered with the county government of Kisumu and other stakeholders to conduct public participation sessions in Koru and Muhoroni areas of Kisumu County and other parts of the region where limestone mining is ongoing.
Bera said the department has also embarked on creating awareness on the Cement Minerals Levy Regulations Act 2013 which spells out levies to be charged for effective management of the sector.
The Mining officer said enforcement of the law has resulted in Rai Cement Factory based in Kisumu paying Sh.75.01 million as mining levy to the government out of 492,942.4 tonnes sales made between January 2020 to July 2021.
Bera said the department has joined hands with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to ensure that proper environmental impact assessment is carried out before mining is authorized.
He singled out blasting as a major challenge which equally posed a health hazard for the community.
“Blasting carries flying risky rock particles and ground vibration and intensive pressure is witnessed. This has an impact in the neighborhood,” Bera added.
Bera at the same time called upon artisanal miners in the region to employ safety measures while carrying out mining.
He said committees have been created in areas where gold mining takes place to ensure that safety guidelines are observed to curb incidences of loss of lives.
Bera appealed to stakeholders to support the enforcement, saying that other than limestone and cement production, minerals like copper, gold in Siaya are targeted for exploration.
He underscored the importance of mining in promoting the economy of the region and urged investors to take advantage of the region’s rich mineral resources to create employment for the youth.
By Joseph Otieno and Ruth Okoth