NAIROBI Kenya, Sep 20 – The government says it will formulate a mining policy which will set standards for the industry.
The Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Mining, Richard Ekae said on Friday that they want to ensure the sector contributes immensely to the economy of the country and also raise the livelihood of the locals living around areas where mining activities are ongoing.
Ekae added that all mining contracts will be awarded competitively for both local and international investors.
“We want to move this sector from a disorganised mining sector to a predictable one and that’s why we want to build a legal framework,” he said. “We are moving from a point where we didn’t have policies. We want to have a streamlined mining sector.”
On August 5 the government revoked all mining licenses issued between January and May this year.
Cabinet Secretary for Mining Najib Balala said at the time that most of the licenses were issued under questionable circumstances to unqualified people and companies.
The licenses were allegedly awarded after the dissolution of the 10th Parliament with Balala saying that there was no proper legal framework for the process.
“We are revoking all licenses from miners and mining companies for us to understand the process used to issue them and confirm that the people they were awarded to are qualified to hold them,” said Balala.
The Principal Secretary added that the government was seeking expert knowledge from countries that has better policies and well established mining sectors.
“We are in a learning process but we are doing fast. We want to learn from countries such as Australia and Canada which have well established mining sectors.”
He noted that the country was on mining take off and, “we expect a mining boom.”
For the citizens to experience this gain, Ekae noted that they are going to, “make sure communities where resources are found are at peace with the companies working in these areas.”
“We shall ensure that all resources found within the boundaries of our country are used for the good of all citizens,” he added.
Ekae reassured investors that the government would continue to provide an enabling environment for their investments to thrive noting that they only need to reciprocate by following the law.
Also to be considered will be the environmental impact of mining which includes erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals from mining processes.
In some cases, additional forest logging is done in the vicinity of mines to increase the available room for the storage of the created debris and soil.
Besides creating environmental damage, the contamination resulting from leakage of chemicals also affects the health of the local population.