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New Kenyan minister pledges to revamp mining industry

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will soon begin mapping her mineral wealth through an airborne mineral survey so as to create a scientific data base for extractives in an effort to strengthen the mining industry, a government official said on Tuesday.

John Munyes, the new Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Mining and Petroleum, said the country’s mining sector has remained largely unexploited due to a lack of updated information on the size of the country’s mineral wealth.

“Kenya needs to know the exact size of its mineral wealth so that it can become a mineral hub,” Munyes told journalists in Nairobi when he took over the ministry from his predecessor Dan Kazungu who has been appointed ambassador to Tanzania.

According to the ministry, there are five mineral mining blocks in the country—the Coast, Eastern Western Northern and Rift mining blocks.

A 2017 survey released by Fraser Institute, a Canadian research organization, shows Kenya moved 16 places up to position 86 from 102 as a mining destination.

Currently the country’s mineral wealth includes limestone, soda ash, diatomite, fluorspar, zinc, and gypsum. Recently, the country discovered oil deposits in Kerio Valley in the northern Kenya, according to the ministry.

Munyes promised to work with proactive people in the industry to sensitize communities on different matters related to mining, urging legislators including government officials to take part in the sensitization.

Among Munyes’ priorities is to empower small scale miners and artisans so that they can contribute effectively to the industry. According to the government official, communities play a big role in the mining sector.

Munyes also called on Parliament to approve the Mineral Royalty Fund Bill so that communities in mineral rich counties such as Kwale in the coastal region can receive the benefits of their natural resources.

He noted that in Kwale, several mining activities are occurring including mining of titanium while prospecting of Niobium is also on-going.

Citing lack of training and skills for youth interested in mining, the new cabinet secretary promised to facilitate capacity building to ensure the country produces more skilled personnel to drive the sector.

On his part, Kazungu urged him to continue with the reforms and reorganize the ministry for better performance.



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