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Mining stakeholders express support for envisaged reforms in the sector

PS Mining Elijah Mwangi (in suit) with Kenya Chambers of Mines Dr. Patrick Kanyoro during their deliberations on mining of strategic minerals.

Mining stakeholders have expressed support for the state-driven reforms in the sector even as they requested for a grace period before the eventual implementation of  regulations governing  mining of strategic minerals to mitigate against possible disruption of livelihoods.

Dr. Patrick Kanyoro, the Chair for Kenya Chamber of Mines, said that while the industry players were in support of the mining reforms, dealers of strategic minerals including miners and buyers harbored fears and uncertainties over the future of their mining operations following last year’s historic state decision to classify 14 minerals as strategic.

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Speaking on Friday, Dr. Kanyoro said a grace period would allow for a seamless transition that would have minimal disruptive effects on thousands of livelihoods that depend on mining and dealing with strategic minerals.

“As an industry, we are fully in support of government’s move to oversee the exploitation of strategic minerals with a view on creating jobs and promoting value addition. To avoid possible disruptions, we are asking the government for a grace period for dealers of strategic minerals to allow for smooth transition into the new dispensation,” he implored.

The Chamber Chair’s request comes in the wake of a government decision in October last year to classify 14 minerals amongst them copper, niobium, chromite, lead, graphite and rare earths as strategic.

The fourteen are at the heart of government’s shift towards economic revival through adoption and utilization of green energy.

As a result of the declaration, the state further directed that any dealing with strategic mineral would require a nod by National Mining Corporation (NMC); the mining investment arm of the government.

Miners and dealers of any of the strategic minerals were asked to apply for consideration to be permitted to mine with each application being considered on its merit.

However, the government has moved in to assure the dealers  that the process of developing the regulations and guidelines aimed at directing the future mining of strategic minerals was almost complete.P

Principal Secretary in the State Department for Mining Elijah Mwangi said the Mining Act 2016 and Strategic Mineral regulations 2017 allowed the Cabinet Secretary for Mining to issue codes and guidelines intended to govern the mining of strategic minerals.

The PS disclosed that the regulations delved into amongst other issues the lack of a value addition center for strategic minerals in Kenya as well as financial and technical capacity at NMC to explore, mine, process and sell strategic minerals.

He further called for patience from dealers of strategic minerals as the department finalizes on the regulations.

“We have come up with several short, medium and long-term measures to address those challenges. The regulations are almost ready and will be shared with our stakeholders before the end of the month,” he said.

Kenya is home to thousands of artisanal miners engaged in mining strategic minerals especially copper. With a section of dealers having publicly expressed apprehension over how the new state directive will affect their operations, the PS reiterated that the deliberate reforms in the sector were aimed at streamlining the mining ecosystem in Kenya through improving efficiency, promoting the artisanal miners’ wellbeing and increasing mineral profitability.

He pointed out that the department had developed artisanal mining strategy that had allowed Minerals Rights Boards to delineate and set aside exclusive zones to be allocated to artisanal miners.

The PS said artisanal miners were at the heart of the government’s commitment to create jobs and improve livelihoods. He noted that with decriminalizing of artisanal mining operations followed by formation of over 200 marketing cooperatives, the state was moving closer to formalization of the artisanal mining.

He further noted that formation of Artisanal Mining Committees in most counties would increase efficiency in issuance of licenses to artisanal miners. He asked mineral dealers across the country to apply for new licenses to comply with mining legal requirements.

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