SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 2017 17:22
By WYCLIFF KIPSANG
Local communities might soon have access to national parks to prospect for minerals after new rules on mining are gazetted.
The laws presented for gazettement by Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu have been approved by the Attorney General, paving the way for easy access to game parks. For long, locals have been locked out of the potential mineral wealth.
Natural Resources Principal Secretary Margaret Mwakima said the playing ground will change, adding that the current position favours powerful individuals mostly foreigners.
“At the Coast, for instance, indigenous people will be given rights to mine in national parks through which the Mozambique gem belt passes, for instance,” said Dr Mwakima without providing a specific date.
Some of the precious ores mined in the area include green garnet, ruby, rhodilite, topaz, green tomaline, tsavorite, red garnet, sapphire, iron ore and manganese.
Tsavorite, which was discovered in Taita Taveta, is fast rising in popularity. The name is derived from the Tsavo National Park.
Dr Mwakima said local communities would benefit immensely from the Tsavo National Park, one of the largest wildlife ecosystems in Kenya.
“Mining regulations have already been approved by the A-G and will be gazetted by the mining CS soon,” said the PS who spoke at Maktau Trading Centre last week.
The move will give the local community rights to access the vast Tsavo East and West national parks.
Dr Mwakima said Kenya’s mining industry has a lot of potential, adding that this will contribute immensely to the development of industries, besides creating wealth and jobs.
Locals bordering parks have always complained that they wallow in poverty as outsiders benefit from prospecting for vast mineral resources.
Statistics indicate that about 70 per cent of gemstone mining in Kenya is carried out at the Coast.
Records from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) show that out of 21 large scale miners licensed to operate in parks in 1970s, only six companies are active.
It also emerged the powerful individuals who own mining rights in the vast Tsavo ecosystem include senior government officials and MPs.
“The government is committed to ensuring that locals own mining claims to the vast park, which is endowed with enormous mineral deposits,” said Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime.
He said that despite the region being endowed with vast natural resources, residents lack basics such as water, health facilities, schools and good roads.
Local leaders have demanded that the new mining regulations should ensure formation of the County Mining Commission to manage the use of billions of shillings that would be ploughed back to the county governments for implementation of rural development projects.
Under the new law, the national government will retain 75 per cent of the mining proceeds while the county government and the community will pocket 20 and five per cent, respectively.
According to Mr Kazungu, the mining policy will also ensure that the sector performs at its full potential so as to realise Vision 2030.http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/news ... index.html