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Kenya strikes coal in Mwingi, Kitui

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Firms prospecting for coal in Kitui and Mwingi districts have discovered the existence of over 200 million tonnes of the mineral giving credence to reports that there are huge commercial reserves of the resource in Ukambani.

Chief Geologist at the Ministry of Energy Joseph Ndolo said on Tuesday that the deposits were found in one of the four blocks (block C) that are being drilled at various depths and which could support the development of coal mine sites.

“Exploration has been going on for sometime, the belt extends from Zombe to Tseikuru (in the north) and to fasttrack the investigations, the basin has been sub-divided into four blocks, A, B, C and D,” he explained during a presentation to professionals from the Eastern Province.

So far, 66 wells have been drilled in the basin although the firms have concentrated on Block C, where 52 wells have been dug.

The geologist said current appraisals that will confirm the reserves, are being undertaken, after which the ministry will concession the other blocks for further exploration.

“Expression of Interest for concessioning of the Mui Basin Coal Blocks has been advertised for lease to prospective investors for possible exploration, exploitation and development,” he said of the zones that have already been gazetted.

The reserves could not only support iron and steel production but also electric power generation, he explained. Thus, Mr Ndolo further disclosed, each concessionaire would be given an opportunity to develop a 300 Megawatt power plant which would provide a cheaper source of energy in the country.

Surplus coal would be made available to other potential uses such as cement manufacture, conversion to liquid fuels, smelting of iron ore among others, the geologist added.

Besides coal, the region is endowed with substantial quantities of sand which can ‘build several cities like Nairobi’, Mr Ndolo quipped adding that other areas such as Funyula, Embu, Meru and Lolgorian also have large amounts of iron ore.

These prospects put Kenya in a unique position to achieve a conducive business climate as well as industrial development all of which would go a long way in the country’s realisation of the goals outlined in its development blueprint, Vision 2030.

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He said the government will now embark on a campaign to sensitise the community about the benefits they are set to gain once these projects get underway.

As a member of the community, the geologist called upon the professionals to play a key role in the management of these natural resources whose extraction would bring good tidings to the region that has for a long time grappled with abject poverty.

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