Government begins Sh7b exercise to document Kenya’s minerals

NAIROBI, KENYA: The much awaited process to establish the amount of minerals under Kenya’s feet will finally get underway in March.

According to the Mining CS Dan Kazungu, the Sh7 billion loan from Exim Bank of China to fund an airborne mapping project of the country’s mineral resources has been declared effective Monday last week.

“Between September and December last year, we were working on getting the approval. Now we have met all the pre-conditions that had been set and we are happy to announce that the work will begin in March,” said Kazungu.

This means that the process, whose starting date has been postponed several times owing to challenges bordering on source of financing, will finally begin to help the country understand the location and amount of minerals that may be lying unexploited under our feet.

Initially, the CS was cautious that handing the deal to a foreign firm could expose the country’s vital data to wrong hands and make the country lose money. However, he says this has since been mitigated.

Speaking on Monday, Kazungu said that he has ensured that the project has different people and organisations on the project so that data integrity and credibility is achieved.

“We have included our own Kenyan team to help in supervision so that Kenya gets the data that is credible, secure and that nobody tampers with it.  This is going to be a national asset,” he explained.

About 16 Kenyan geoscientists will be tasked with providing technical oversight and monitoring of the project. Also included are officials from ministries of mining, energy, ICT and security.

The loan is a government to government arrangement and Kenya has settled on a Chinese contractor- Geological Exploration Technology Institute (Geti). However, the CS says there will be a team around Geti to “give us comfort” that the process will be credible.

The ministry has also hired a team consisting of United Kingdom’s International Geoscience Services (IGS) and Canada’s Patterson and Grant to act as independent supervisors on behalf of the ministry.

United Kingdom’s International Geoscience Services (IGS) and Canada’s Patterson and Grant were picked from 17 international companies that bid for the position of independent consultant supervisors for the project.

Kenya thinks that the completion of the process will make the country an attractive mining jurisdiction. However, this could take up to the year 2021.

Kazungu told The Standard that the survey could take up to March 2019 to get provisional data.

“We may need one year to get provisional data of the mineral wealth we have in the country. Then we will have two more years of detailed analysis of that data,” he said.

This means Kenyans across the 47 counties will have to wait until 2021 to get an idea of what lies beneath Kenya. In north Ireland, such survey helped mineral exploration to grow by about 70 per cent as more investors came on board.

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