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Mining firm awaits clarity on Balala order

CORTEC-BOSSNAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5 – A company that last month got approval of its Environmental Impact Assessment for the mining and processing of niobium and rare earths in Kwale says it has not been notified of the cancellation of mining licences by the government.

Cortec Mining Kenya said that it had not received any communication on the order by Mining Secretary Najib Balala when Capital FM News made enquiries.

“The company has learnt this through the media and therefore is trying to reach the ministry for more information. Until now, Cortec is not aware of how this statement affects it,” the firm said in response.

Balala announced the cancellation of all licences issued from January to May saying they were issued in questionable circumstances.

Balala further set up a taskforce to review the issuance of the licenses.

The taskforce led by Mohammed Nyaoga will in 60 days assess the validity of all licenses issued from January 2003 to date and draft recommendations.

Cortec Mining Kenya on July 15, 2013 announced approval of its Environmental Impact Assessment for the mining and processing of niobium and rare earth minerals at Mrima Hill, Kwale on the South coast.

Niobium is a rare mineral used to strengthen steel used in manufacturing cars, ships, oil and gas pipelines as well as aircraft engines, among others.

The Managing Director Cortec Mining Kenya David Anderson said initial excavation would begin in late 2014 followed by operation of the pilot plant in 2015.

The mining project said to be the biggest in the world and would generate more than Sh26 billion in tax and royalties for the country.

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Cortec’s mining licence required them to pay 3 percent and 5 percent as royalty on niobium and rare earths respectively.

The new royalties require them to pay 10 percent on niobium and 10 percent on rare earth elements.

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