Mining ministry should back responsible miners

In Summary

• Base Titanium has been extracting mineral ores from dunes in Kwale since 2014

• The Australian company may quit Kenya as its existing concessions will soon be exhausted

Base Titanium port facility at Likoni.Photo Elkana Jacob
Base Titanium port facility at Likoni.Photo Elkana Jacob

Does Kenya want a transparent well-run mining sector that generates substantial export revenue? Yes or No?

For the last six years, Australian mining company Base Titanium has been mining titanium ores from dunes in Kwale. It has paid all its taxes and royalties. It has employed 750 local people and supported local schools and health centres. It is restoring the site so that it will become productive farmland after it leaves.

One would assume that government would want all mining companies in Kenya to be like Base Titanium. But government seems in two minds. And Base Titanium may soon leave Kenya.

It has finished extracting minerals from the Central Dune and has moved on to the South Dune. It needs a permit to work on the lower-grade North Dune but the Mining ministry has not yet issued it. More importantly, the ministry has not assisted with finalising exploration permits elsewhere at the Coast.

Does the government prefer wildcat miners who dodge taxes and leave the land scarred and polluted?

Base Titanium presently contributes 65 percent to all official mineral exports from Kenya. If the Mining ministry wants a responsible transparent mining sector in future, it should assist Base Titanium to continue working in Kenya.

Quote of the day: "There is no part of the world where corruption is absolutely eliminated."

Olusegun Obasanjo
The Nigerian President was born on March 5, 1937