The government has announced plans to lift the moratorium on mineral mining that has been in place since 2019.
This is according to the cabinet secretary for Mining and Blue Economy Salim Mvurya, who says that the decision is to help revamp the mining sector.
The moratorium – which was imposed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019, was meant to streamline the sector, by prohibiting licensing of new explorations and prospecting activities.
But the CS, in a statement, said that regulations had already been put in place to help restructure the sector, paving way for the suspension of the moratorium.
Mvurya said that the moratorium had allowed the ministry time to re-organize itself and introduce rules to help safeguard the industry from illegal mining operations.
“It is during the suspension and following completion of the resource mapping project that the government realized the important role mining may play in the economy leading to creation of a stand-alone state department responsible for mining. It is therefore anticipated that the department will better manage the sector sustainably, effectively and for prosperity,” Mvurya said.
Mining CS Salim Mvurya.
The CS said that the moratorium will be lifted in phases starting with construction and industrial minerals such as limestone, gypsum and pozzolana.
Critics of the moratorium have previously argued that the three-year-long ban had slowed new investments in the sector, which contributes less than a percentage to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Besides exploration, Kenya has not renewed or issued new mining licences since 2015 when then Mining minister Najib Balala revoked the licences of 65 companies, forcing mining firms to operate under a gazette notice.
Kenya has proven deposits of titanium in Kwale, gold in western Kenya and coal at Mui Basin in Kitui.
The country is also believed to hold significant deposits of copper, niobium, manganese and rare earth minerals which largely remain under-exploited.
The sector’s contribution to GDP has for years stagnated at less than a percentage, hovering between 0.7% and 0.8%.
And to ensure transparency in issuance of the mineral rights, Mvurya said that the Online Mining Cadastra was already operational, and will help improve accountability and openness in the process of awarding licenses and permits.
Mvurya also said that his department has initiated plans to lobby for more resources saying that the State Department of Mining has a great potential, however, lack of resources hinders it.
“Mineral management requires prior investments in identification, evaluation of mineral potential, legislative frameworks and management of the exploration for the country to benefit commensurate with the mineral values. This requires resources at the infrastructure and human capital levels,” he said.
Mvurya said that with enough support and policies in place, the mining sector will be an investment unit that will generate more revenue and move from the current 1% to 10% in the next five years.