The government is setting up a Mineral Rights Board to replace the current licensing advisory committee, as it embarks on implementing the new Mining Act.
Mining Cabinet secretary Dan Kazungu yesterday said the board will oversee licensing and leasing, and is expected to reduce the time taken to process an application via the newly launched mining register portal.
“We are perfecting this on an online platform to make sure that you can even track your licence application step by step,” Kazungu said in Nairobi, during a stakeholder engagement on the proposed mining regulations and guidelines.
Section 31 of the Mining Act 2016 stipulates the board will advise and give recommendations to the CS on the grant, rejection, retention, renewal, suspension, revocation, variation, assignment, trading, tendering, or transfer of mineral rights agreements.
It will also advise on, among others, areas suitable for small-scale and artisanal mining, areas where mining operations may be excluded and restricted, and the declaration of some minerals as strategic minerals.
This, he said, will support the ministry which has developed a 20-year strategy to leapfrog the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product to 10 per cent by 2030, from the current one per cent.
President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Mining Bill on May 6, ushering a new era from use of the previous colonial mining law that had been in existence since 1940. The new law will enable Kenya to strike a proper balance between investor interest, public interest and financial obligations to the mineral rights holders.
“This new law and policy positions Kenya towards the path to being the most attractive destination for mineral investment in Africa, and enhances the country’s competitiveness globally by providing a stable, predictable and transparent investment climate for exploration and mining companies,” Kazungu said.
The ministry plans to launch an aerial geophysical survey on the country’s mineral deposits in December.
Treasury CS Henry Rotich allocated Sh3 billion for the first phase of the survey in the current 2016-17 financial year.
“We are setting up a team of 16 top geologists to identify the contractor for the project. This is critical because investors also look at credible data. We want to be competitive and attractive,” he said.