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January 19, 2019

Msambweni locals oppose Base Titanium exploration

Mining and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes(right)at Base Titanium mining sites in Kwale County./CHARI SUCHE
Mining and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes(right)at Base Titanium mining sites in Kwale County./CHARI SUCHE

Residents of Msambweni subcounty have rejected a request by Mining CS John Munyes to support mineral exploration by Base Titanium.

They threatened to cause chaos if the CS and Base Titanium officials toured the area for exploration.

Munyes held three meetings with the public at Magaoni,Vanga and Tsuwini on Sunday.

But the residents yesterday said Base Titanium has caused them suffering and do not want the company’s licence renewed.

The CS said the residents should accept the exploration of mineral deposits in their areas, saying it is a source of revenue.

Munyes said procedures should be followed in accordance with the Mining Act before any company starts work.

"The law requires us to involve all parties in the matter and seek the consent of landowners," he said.

Base Titanium wants to extend its operations to Vanga, Magaoni, Zigira and Tsuwini.

Munyes said the company’s licence will only be renewed if the matter is fully resolved.

"We are getting closer to resolving the issue because the community, leaders and investors are all in discussions," he said.

The CS added that the communities affected would be compensated, including the squatters.

In February, Lunga Lunga MP Khattib Mwashetani said no exploration activities would be allowed in the subcounty by the Ministry of Mining.

He said the activities could displace poor locals from their land and only a few would benefit from the minerals.

Deposits of rare earth minerals were found at Mrima hill.

Mwashetani said Msambweni residents where Base Titanium is operating are living a hard life after being relocated and he would not allow the same to happen to his constituents.

A report accusing Base Titanium mining company of disregard of rights and skewed benefits sharing with mine operations and host communities in Kwale was dismissed by the company as “mostly incorrect”.

The report was based on a survey carried out by Haki Jamii, an NGO.

The survey covered 39 households in Nguluku and Bwiti villages of Kwale in May.

In the report, Haki Jamii accused Base Titanium of failing to effectively mitigate the adverse environmental, social and economic consequences of mining.

But the company termed the claim “a broad sweeping accusation not backed up by facts”.

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