POWER GENERATION

Mui Basin is different to Lamu Coal project

In Summary

• The 123,000 acre Mui Basin in Kitui County contains an estimated 400 million tonnes of coal

• In 2013 Fenxi Mining was awarded a contract to exploit the Mui Basin but nothing has happened

PROSPECTS: Residents of the Block C and D on the Mui coal basin inspect samples of coal found in local wells. Photo/Musembi Nzengu
PROSPECTS: Residents of the Block C and D on the Mui coal basin inspect samples of coal found in local wells. Photo/Musembi Nzengu

Hopefully the Lamu Coal Power project is now dead. There was very little to recommend it. Kenya Power already receives 80 percent of its power from hydro and geothermal. More geothermal stations are coming online and there is no immediate shortfall in electricity generation in Kenya.

But the worst thing about the Lamu Coal Power project was that it intended to use imported coal from South Africa. There would have been a huge foreign exchange outflow to South Africa.

Originally the Lamu power station was supposed to use coal from the 123,000 acre Mui basin in Kitui county. Somehow the plan changed to using South African coal.

Recently an Environment ministry official said behind-the-scenes politics had blocked the development of the Mui basin after a contract was awarded to Fenxi Mining in December 2013.

Fenxi is not blameless in this saga and may never have had the capacity to develop Mui.

But Mui should not be judged by the same yardstick as Lamu.

Exploiting the Mui Basin would not be environmentally friendly. But it would bring development to Kitui and Kenya would not waste precious forex importing coal for power generation from outside the country.

Quote of the day: "Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility."

E. F. Schumacher
The German-English economist died on September 4, 1977