Fifty-two families in Kwale County have agreed to monetary compensation and resettlement to pave way for mining operations.
The Australian mining firm Base Titanium has agreed to pay compensation to people who have been demanding payments to leave their ancestral land for mining activities.
They agreed to be relocated from the mining site during a stakeholders’ forum attended by officials from Ministry of Mining and Base Titanium at Nguluku village in Msambweni sub county.
The Base Titanium mineral project in Msambweni Sub County of Kwale is arguably the biggest extractive investment in the country with a high value mineral assemblage such as ilmenite, rutile and zircon.
Colin Forbes, Base Titanium General Manager Environment and Community Affairs say the mining affected families in Kibwaga, Nora, Mchangamweupe and Nguluku areas would soon be relocated to pave way for mining activities.
Forbes said the relocation of the people would be done in a sustainable manner to ensure that the livelihoods of the villagers were not disrupted.
“We are excited that the families in the mine zones have agreed to be relocated and we will ensure that that they are properly compensated to start life afresh elsewhere,” he said adding that special mining license will further extend the mine life of the Kwale operation by one and a half years.
He said 29 out of the 52 families to be compensated and relocated do not inhabit land to be mined but are being evacuated as they live on spillways for earth dams.
Forbes said the mining firm is determined to duly compensate the residents ‘now that we are having an agreement with them’ and start the mining work without further delay.
Fredrick Ndambuki, the Administrative Secretary in the State Department of Mining said Base Titanium will receive their special mining license to extend their operations in two weeks’ time since it has been approved by the office of the Attorney General.
Ndambuki said the government will take lead in engaging the communities on matters of exploration and compensation with the Australia-based company.
“One issue that concerned us as a ministry was about the issue of compensation and relocation of families in the mining zone,” said Ndambuki, adding that with the issuance of special mining license and people agreeing to move away opens the area to prospecting and mining.
He assured the locals that issues of noise, air and water pollution in the surrounding areas of mines are being addressed.
Ndambuki said the government is determined to streamline the lucrative mining sector to unlock mineral potential through the new Mining Act of 2016.
He said the Act specifies the sharing of royalties between the national government (70 percent), county governments (20 percent) and local communities (10 percent).
The administrative secretary said the mining act will level the playing field for industry players such as artisanal, small scale and large scale mining investors.
Hamisi Athman, Chairman of the Nguluku residents’ committee said compensation and relocation talks between Base and the local community has been very successful.
“We are ready to pave way for mining since we believe the extractive sector will benefit the people of Kwale and beyond,” said the community spokesman.
By Hussein Abdullahi