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State reforms artisanal mining activities

The Ministry for Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs is conducting ground truthing and confirmatory fieldwork on the identified 970 mineral deposit occurrences across the country.

The fieldwork aims to confirm the mineral’s existence, quality, and quantities in 16 counties.

Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya said that in a bid to improve the mining sector and ensure it contributes the targeted 10 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product by 2030, the government has undertaken various reforms to make the sector viable and economical.

Mvurya announced that the State Department for Mining has also developed several legal regulations to govern gemstones, identification and value addition, licences and permits, dealing in minerals, royalty collection and management, and mine support services, which he noted are at an advanced stage of approval.

In a press statement sent to the newsrooms on the Status of Reforms in the Kenyan mining sector, the CS said the government has lifted the moratorium it imposed in December 2019 to undertake significant reforms.

He said for transparency in the issuance of mineral rights, the State Department of Mining has taken measures to ensure that the online mining cadaster is operational, a move he said will enhance accountability and openness in the process of awarding licenses and permits.

“Over 3000 illegal operations have been issued with stop orders. The Ministry has also profiled illegal miners and mineral dealers in view of closing all their operations,” disclosed the CS.

Mvurya said his ministry is setting up an enforcement team in collaboration with other government agencies to stop illegal mining deals, adding that plans have also been initiated to encourage in-country mineral processing and value addition.

He said the moratorium that was lifted on October 3, 2023, on all construction and industrial minerals shall enable Strategic Minerals Mining rights to be processed on a case-by-case basis as per the Mining (Strategic Minerals) Regulations, 2017.

“To enhance compliance, a special police unit shall be seconded to the State Department for Mining to deal with mineral smuggling,” he said.

The CS announced that artisanal mining activities have been decriminalised and directed artisans to form marketing cooperatives for consideration of the issuance of artisanal mining permits by artisan mining committees.

He at the same time directed that all transporters of minerals must obtain road transport permits from the regional mining offices, for which loading of the minerals and sealing of the containers must be witnessed by the regional mining officers.

The department has also directed gemstone dealers in Voi to operate from the Voi Gemstone and Value Addition Centre and mining officers at all points of entry and exit to authenticate mineral consignments.

“Mineral markets shall be opened in all regions to facilitate trade, and all mineral dealers shall be required to operate from the set markets,” emphasised the CS.

The CS thanked all investors and players in the sector for their patience during the period when the department was undertaking reforms while encouraging them to adhere to regulations as the ministry continues to enhance service delivery.

The State Department of Mining plans to hold a stakeholder engagement in the next two weeks to discuss how the reforms in the sector can be improved.

By Bernadette Khaduli

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