• Dawida Tuweta Artisanal Mining Association will help the miners negotiate with conglomerates and get fair prices and other benefits for their work.
• Association chairman Herman Mole said the lobby gives them a platform to have their voices heard.
More than 400 artisanal miners in Taita Taveta county on Friday launched a lobby to advocate for fair treatment and equal opportunities in the mining industry.
Dawida Tuweta Artisanal Mining Association will help the miners negotiate with conglomerates and get fair prices and other benefits for their work.
Association chair Herman Mole said the lobby gives them a platform to have their voices heard.
“It is time we are recognised as hardworking Kenyans who contribute to the development of the country’s economy,” Mole said.
Haki Yetu Organisation land program officer Furaha Charo said the registration of the association comes at a time when Kenya is experiencing an influx of conglomerate mining companies due to discovery of large mineral deposits.
“The danger of this is that despite recognition of artisanal mining in the Mining Act 2016, the rights of artisanal miners risk being overlooked at the expense of large scale mining companies,” she said.
Charo said for long, artisanal miners have complained of difficulties in getting mining permits as opposed to the conglomerate companies.
“A group of local miners will be forced to go through many channels, eventually getting their licence if lucky, after about a year. But when a large company applies for a license, they get it within three weeks,” Mole said.
The chair said with the association in place, they will also be pushing the county government to help them get market for their gems.
A gemstone centre has been established in Taita Taveta county but it is not operational yet.
Mole asked the county government to help the artisanal miners in the county through budgetary provisions for tools and equipment to boost production.
He said the traditional mining methods are mostly tedious with very little output.
Beatrice Mjomba, Taita Taveta Human Rights Watch head of governance and natural resources said the extent of artisanal mining blocks have also not been clear thus most of the miners have ended up losing the sites to large scale mining companies.
Mjomba asked the Taita Taveta county government to liaise with the Lands and Mining ministries to fast-track demarcation of mining blocks.
She said miners encounter challenges in acquiring consent to conduct their mining activities, especially in private ranches.
Taita Taveta Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui said the county will work to ensure artisanal miners are treated fairly.
“But at the same time, I urge them to be even more aggressive in putting both the county and national governments to task towards protecting their interests,” she said.
Haki Yetu Organisation program officer John Paul urged artisanal miners to take advantage of the political goodwill and use the association to voice concerns to relevant stakeholders.