, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17 – Mining Secretary Najib Balala on Friday assumed office with a promise to repeal the current mining law.
Speaking to reporters at his new office situated at the former Public Works headquarters in Community, Balala described the current Act as archaic saying it does not deal with many concerns in the mining sector.
He stated that the focus of the new law will be to ensure that all mineral investments in the country are for the interest of Kenyans.
“On Wednesday, we are going to have a workshop with a small team to look at the Mining Act… basically repealing it and creating a new Bill that is modern. The previous Act was established in 1940 and now we are going to have a new Bill of 2013,” he said.
“With the previous minister, we got Cabinet approval of a proposed Bill but it was not discussed in Parliament,” he pointed out.
He further explained that under the new law, there is a provision for the government to take up 35 percent of shares in mining companies, a provision that would benefit many Kenyans.
“Sometimes you can explore and not get anything, but we know the minute it is developed to a second level of exploitation, there the country first needs to benefit and the local community on the ground will also benefit,” he stated.
“After my presentation to Cabinet of the legal framework then I will also issue a time table on my tour in the country where we have seen these resources,” he said.
He indicated that it will also ensure maximum transparency in allocating mining licenses and maximum revenue flowing back to Kenya.
“How do we do the licensing and who gets the licensing. Those are the regulations that when the bill is through into an Act, then the Cabinet Secretary will have the powers to regulate in terms of transparent ways. The fundamental issue is that Kenya must benefit in any deal of exploration and particularly the exploitation of the resources,” he said.
He emphasised that Kenya had a vast supply of resources that need to be explored in an organized manner.
“There are resources in Taita Taveta in terms of gemstones, precious metals like Titanium in Kwale and gold in Transmara that is already being exploited. There are also others in Migori and South Nyanza as well as resources in Turkana and Baringo as well,” he said.
“I will need to visit all these areas and be able to appreciate the challenges there and be able to address them,” he stated.
The Mining Secretary also outlined plans to do a geophysical mapping of the whole country so that all mining resources can be allocated fairly.
“The second priority that we have is the geophysical mapping that is the air born survey. We are going to meet with the National Treasury Secretary next week to discuss about the budget since it is estimated to cost about Sh5 billion to do the mapping for the country and we will see what resources can be allocated to this specific project,” he said.
He pointed out that should that be difficult, the ministry will be looking to partner with the private sector to proceed with the project.
“We also have an option of engaging in Public-Private Partnership so that we can fast-track the process if government is constrained in resources and we are going to conclude all that with the Treasury next week and get a direction from them,” he said.