Kenya, Dec 2 – The mining ministry has kicked off a countrywide consultation with players in the construction minerals sub sector, in a bid to reform the quarter.
This is part of the ministry’s renewed efforts to streamline among others, the quarry sub sector in the country.
Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu on Saturday met the management of Tabere Concrete in Kirinyaga County, as part of the drive, aimed at incorporating views of miners in the planned reforms.
“I have paid them a visit to discuss ways of regulating and supporting the development and success of the construction minerals sub sector, in order to create wealth and jobs according to the New Economic Agenda,” Kazungu said.
The CS is also counting on a taskforce on administration of quarries he constituted in September this year, to help reorganizing the sub sector.
Chaired by Edward Mulewa Mwachinga, the nine-member team has one to establish the legal status, land ownership and management of all quarries in the country.
The taskforce is tasked with among other duties; proposing mechanisms for proper administration and management of the construction minerals subsector in accordance with the mining Act 2016, coming up with modalities for the effective collection of royalties and taxes from the construction minerals sub sector.
It will also assess compliance by active and inactive quarries, identifying all active and inactive quarries, state of environmental, health and safety compliance of all quarries as well as the impact of the use of explosives in the sub sector.
“Quarrying is increasingly becoming key. Lack of regulation in the sub sector has led to degradation of the environment, misuse of revenues meant to be remitted to the national government, investors and the communities,” Kazungu said.
The ministry is keen to transform the quarry sub sector for better revenues and ensure artisanal, small scale and large-scale miners carry out responsible mining in the country.
“Despite the challenges in the subsector, there are also numerous opportunities for Kenyans to tap into as Kenya is undergoing infrastructure transformation that largely requires construction minerals in nearly all aspects,” the CS said.
In 2016, the construction industry contributed seven percent of Gross domestic Product (GDP) with the key ingredient being construction minerals such as sand, gravel, clay (bentonite and Kaolin), cement, gypsum, slate and building stone among others.
Under the new mining law, the government under the Ministry of Mining in Kenya regulates construction minerals.
Kazungu has been spearheading a number of reforms in the ministry, aimed at increasing the mining sector’s contribution to the GDP, with a target of 10 per cent by 2030.
Among them is the streamlining of the artisanal mining sub sector anchored in the Mining Act, 2016, which came into effect on May 27 last year after the assent of President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 6.
The new law recognises small-scale mining.
The CS has also been leading a domestic and international charm offensive to attract investments in the country’s mining sector.
“Mining is the next economic frontier for Kenya,” Kazungu said.
Since his appointment in 2015, Kenya has steadily climbed the ranks on global attractiveness as a mineral investment destination.
Canadian public policy think tank — The Fraser Institute, this year ranked Kenya 86th most attractive mining destination in the world, up from 102 last year, buoyed by among others an appealing legislative environment.
The Fraser Institute’s annual mining survey looks at among others, public policy factors such as taxation, licensing and other regulatory aspects in a country’s mining sector, and their impact on investment.
The ministry is currently putting in place structures to have mining permits issued at the County level, in an effort to include and increase small scale miners’ participation in exploration and extraction of minerals.
Kazungu said the ministry will launch Artisanal Mining Committees in mining counties, to help process and issue mining permits to artisanal miners faster and with ease.
The process will begin before the year ends, the CS noted.
Counties that will pioneer the process include Taita Taveta, at the Kenyan Coast, which boasts of having about 70 percent of the country’s gemstones and precious stones deposits.
An artisanal miner or small-scale miner is someone not officially employed by a mining company, but rather, works independently, mining or panning for minerals using their own resources.
It is estimated that about 100,000 people are directly engaged in artisanal mining in the country.
Last year, artisanal miners contributed 25 tonnes of the overall 76 tonnes of gold traded in Kenya, ministry data shows, while they account for over 60 per cent of annual gemstone production in the country.
“If artisanal miners are organized they can become a very key sector,” Kazungu noted.