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State asks investors to prioritize setting up local mineral value-addition centers

The government will give priority to mining investments committed to establishing value-addition and mineral-processing centres in Kenya as part of incentivizing investors to support the State’s agenda for job creation in the mining sector.

The Principal Secretary (PS) State Department for Mining Elijah Mwangi said Kenya’s vast mineral endowments have the potential to effectively address the unemployment challenges facing the country through the establishment of a local mineral processing plan; a move that would provide employment opportunities for Kenyan youths.

While calling for investors to apply for licenses to exploit Kenya’s mineral resources, the PS said that the policy on mineral processing and value addition encouraged the setting up of plants and refineries locally to accelerate mineral value addition processes.

That would not only be a catalyst for the creation of jobs but would also significantly increase the value of Kenya’s minerals in the regional and international markets, Mwangi noted

The PS was speaking in Tharaka Nithi County during a meeting with Governor Muthomi Njuki and other county leaders to explore ways of enhancing cooperation between the two levels of government to promote the full exploitation of minerals in the region.

“We are asking investors to apply for the mineral rights. The priority will be on investors who have expressed interest and capability to set up value addition centers, refineries, and processing plants that will not only increase the value for our minerals but also create jobs for communities and youth in this sector,” he said.

The investment’s call comes at a time when the country is investing heavily in value addition in agricultural, manufacturing, livestock, and extractive sectors to promote the growth of local industries. This strategy is being viewed as the critical cog that will place Kenya on the trajectory of an industrialized nation.

The PS further disclosed that all mineral applications would be processed by April as he called upon all miners and dealers to get the required licenses to avoid being declared non-compliant. Already, the department has received over 1,200 applications for various mineral rights which would be processed by April. Additionally, 260 mineral dealing applications are being processed.

A major operation would be launched after April to weed out all illegal miners and close down any mining operation that would not comply with the law. Already, a Mineral Police Unit has been established to supplement the enforcement operations in the mining sector.

During the meeting, the State Department and the county government entered into a collaborative framework that would culminate in the establishment of the first state-of-the-art mineral laboratory in the region.  This is in fulfillment of the Department’s commitment to decentralizing critical lab services to increase efficiency and promote profitability in the entire mineral value chain.

This collaboration will see Tharaka Nithi County provide land and buildings while the Department will supply specialized equipment and experts to run the facility.

Governor Muthomi Njuki hailed the working partnership stating that it heralded a new dawn for thousands of artisanal miners and mining operations in the region.

He called upon investors to set up value addition plants in the region as he pledged to create a conducive environment that will allow the sector to thrive.

“This county is endowed with a very facilitative environment for mining investments to thrive. We have adequate water, power, road infrastructure, and a vibrant workforce that will be an asset to any investor who puts up a value addition centre,” he said.

He pointed out that the county was home to both strategic and construction minerals including copper, iron ore, and lime; resources that can transform the lives of residents of the region.

He also called upon the government to work closely with counties to exploit the mineral resources as part of bolstering inter-governmental collaboration to address the many challenges facing the communities in mining areas.

By Wagema Mwangi

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