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September 22, 2018

Mining forum to deliberate on Kakamega’s gold plans

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya when he appeared before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee on the audit queries raised by the auditor general for the financial year 2014/15. July 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya when he appeared before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee on the audit queries raised by the auditor general for the financial year 2014/15. July 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor

The Kakamega government will host a two-day conference to discuss the state of mining in the county.

On February 27 last year, British exploration company Acacia announced that it had found 1.31 million ounces of maiden high-grade gold in its Liranda corridor, Ikolomani.

Yesterday, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said Acacia will attend the October 8-9 meeting to brief them on what it plans to do. He said the county will partner with the firm and welcomed its investment.

“We’re excited about the potential of Acacia’s West Kenya project. It could ultimately lead to the creation of a gold mining industry that would benefit our county, economy and people,” he said on the phone.

Petroleum and Mining CS John Munyes last Thursday said Kakamega county has the highest mining potential in the country. He said the Mining Act will be operationalised soon so the sector can thrive and improve the economy.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to visit the county soon.

“I’m told gold mining is one of the issues the President would like to address. That’s why we want to have proper information about the gold find and mining,” he said.

The county chief is in London to meet the Manchester City mayor to seek support for firefighting services and sports. He said Acacia did not involve the local artisanal miners who are recognised by the Mining Act.

“We want the mining company to tell leaders and stakeholders how far they’ve gone with regard to their preparations and the benefits the community should expect once mining begins,” he said.

“They can discover gold and begin to mine and export. We want the refineries to be constructed in Kakamega so the locals receive better returns from the resource.”

Meanwhile, the company is continuing with exploration before mining begins. An officer involved in the exploration said it could take up to five years before mining starts. Assembling equipment would cost about Sh30 billion, he said.

Acacia has been exploring gold under its West Kenya project licence that covers Kakamega, Kisumu and Siaya counties.

It is currently operating three gold mines in North Mara, Bulyahulu and Buzwagi in northwestern Tanzania.

The last large-scale mining in Kakamega was carried out between 1935 and 1952 by Rosterman Gold Mines. The firm was incorporated and licensed to prospect and mine gold, a few kilometres from Kakamega town.

It milled about 655,000 tonnes of ore and produced 259,142 ounces of gold. Since then, artisanal miners have been prospecting the precious mineral in the abandoned mines hoping to make their fortune.

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