Communities have no say over mineral exploitation – PS
Communities living near places with rich minerals have no say on how the tender for exploiting the resources are awarded, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy Patrick Nyoike says. Nyoike said all the resources belong to the government and it has the discretion to decide what to do with it. “The government owns all minerals including the oxygen that you breath under the current law and holds them in trust for all the citizens” Nyoike declared.
Where minerals are concerned, the decision on whether to retain the authority to extract or sell to other parties rests with the central government. This can only be changed through a referendum, the PS said. He said the rising agitation for community involvement in awarding tenders for exploration is misplaced. The communities are only involved in instances where there will be displacement, compensation or jobs creation.
Nyoike said the resource sharing mechanisms are set out in the mining Act and the constitution and therefore cannot be influenced by political pressure unless Parliament seek to amend the law to accommodate emerging concerns in view of new found mineral wealth in various areas of the country. He however said the laws are being strengthened under a new framework to align expectations of the communities where resources are found with the realities of such activities.
He was reacting to issues raised by community leaders from Kitui's Mui basin coal fields who allegedly claimed that the they had the authority to terminate contracts signed with the central government without their participation. The coal exploitation concession between the government and Fenxie Mining Industry Group from China and government is expected to be concluded in the next three months. Nyoike said the government is keen to ensure that misleading utterances made by community leaders do not scare prospective investors looking for mining opportunities in the country.