Firm to refi ne gold and other metals at plant

Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu at the coal mining area in Taru on May 15 /JOHN CHESOLI
Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu at the coal mining area in Taru on May 15 /JOHN CHESOLI

Avalite Mining Company plans to start refining gold and other precious metals for domestic and export markets in the second quarter of 2017, its executive chairman has said.

This may put Kenya, whose small-scale gold deposits are largely transacted on black market, on the global map of mineral trade.

The Kenyan-owned mineral-dealing and processing company made the announcement during a tour of the ongoing construction of its mineral refinery plant, which it estimates will cost about $50 million (Sh5.1 billion) on completion.

“The first phase which was constructing the hub is complete. The second phase will involve the acquisition of specialised equipment, expertise, finances and forging international partnership with other mineral processing companies,” Avalite executive chairman Andrew Kimani told the Star in an interview.

He said the refinery, which will be fully operational by April 2017, will smelt, assay and refine gold, silver and platinum metals.

“Precious metal refining will commence in quarter two next year with a capacity to process at least 200 kilogrammes of precious metals on a daily basis sourced from both local and regional markets,” Kimani said.

Sitting on five acres along Mombasa Road, the plant will be the first hub in the East African region to fully refine gold to the international purity standards of five nines ( 99.999 per cent).

Avalite has partnered with project and investment holding company Harbour Capital for the second phase of the project, which will involve establishment of a rare-earth processing facility and laboratory.

“With a well established mineral processing infrastructure, as well as a growing extractive sector, we identified Nairobi as an ideal location for us to set up the hub,” Kimani said, during a visit of the project by Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu.

The CS said the hub will be a boost to Kenya as it seeks to top the region as a mineral trading hub. He said the project will help stop “black market” trade in gold.

“There is no need to go to black market when we can do proper processing of minerals. As a ministry and government, we want people to stop dealing with minerals under the table,” Kazungu said. “We want to make the environment so conducive so that there will be no need to do business in the black market.”

He said the project will compliment the government’s plans to incorporate small-scale miners in the mineral production and exports, as it seeks to grow the mineral earnings tenfold by 2030.