• May 20, 2024
  • Last Update May 20, 2024 3:20 PM
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Base Titanium to shut Kwale mine in December after resource exhaustion

Base Titanium to shut Kwale mine in December after resource exhaustion

Kwale,

Tuesday May 7, 2024

KNA by Hussein Abdullahi

Kwale based Australian mining firm Base Titanium is shutting down its large-scale mining operations at the end of this year after resource exhaustion.

The Kwale Mine is accredited as a Kenya Vision 2030 flagship mining project and represents a significant impact on the local and national economy.

Mine closure is a process undertaken when the operational stage of a mine has ended and final decommissioning and mine rehabilitation is being carried out.

Base Titanium External Affairs General Manager (GM) Simon Wall says the mining firm is closing down its operations due to resource exhaustion and that the firm is slowly transitioning into a progressive rehabilitation and mine closure plan.

The Kwale Mine Operation features a high grade ore body with a high value mineral assemblage, rich in rutile, ilmenite and zircon which are all considered critical minerals.

Base Titanium took over the Kwale sand operations from Canada’s Tiomin Resources and started its mining operations in 2013. Shipment of ilmenite, rutile and zircon started in 2014.

“Our mining operations will officially end in December this year when our ore reserves are fully exhausted,” said Wall, adding that the Kwale operations will now transition to post mining activities.

He said as mining represents a transient use of the land, the ultimate goal of mine restoration projects is restoring functionality or preparing the site for other beneficial social, historical, environmental, or economic uses while minimizing interference with sensitive ecosystems and restoring biodiversity.

Mr. Wall noted that a mine has a finite lifespan and when the mineral resources are depleted or become uneconomical to extract, the mine will stop operating and shut down.

He said after minerals are exhausted, the mine area must undergo environmental rehabilitation and restoration to minimize land loss and ensure it benefits the society once again as natural landscapes.

“We are undertaking sound environmental rehabilitation and restoration works to minimize land loss and ensure mined-out sites are returned to their original state before any mining took place,” he said.

He went on “our rehabilitation activities are focused on reforestation, increasing biodiversity and developing agricultural opportunities for our host communities.”

He also noted that exploration activities surrounding the mine site have failed to identify additional mineral deposits of commercial value that could ensure the continuation of mining operations that began in 2013.

Wall was speaking at the Kenya School of Government Matuga campus in Kwale County during the unveiling of a Post Mining Land Use (PMLU) committee chaired by State Department of Mining Principal Secretary (PS) Elijah Mwangi.

The PMLU committee was officially inaugurated by Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Salim Mvurya.

This committee is chaired by the PS Mining and has amongst its members the PS for Environment and Climate Change, officials from the State Department for Mining, Kwale County Government, Base Titanium, National Treasury, State Law office, NEMA, National Land Commission, State Department for Industry, Kwale County Commissioner and a representative of Kwale elected leaders.

Wall said the mining company will develop its closure plans in active consultation with the PMLU committee and other stakeholders and provide progressive rehabilitation for shared economic, environmental and social benefits.

He said Base Titanium, which accounts for 65 per cent of the country’s mineral exports, will give greater attention to integrating social, economic and environmental factors into its mine closure programmes.

He added Base Titanium currently has over 37,000 indigenous trees in stock at the Kwale operations indigenous tree nursery ready for land rehabilitation and reforestation.

“We are out to ensure that ecological rehabilitation is integrated into our mine planning process, with progressive rehabilitation plans in place to ensure continuous land reclamation throughout the mine life,” he said.

The top mining official welcomed the formation of the committee noting that the mining firm is committed to restoring the land that has been impacted by mining activities.

“We are a responsible mining company and alive to the fact that once valuable materials have been extracted, the mine should be closed and the sites restored back to their pre-mining environment,” he said.

Wall disclosed that 1600 people who work directly for the mining firm would be rendered jobless, noting that the excitement and fanfare that surrounds the opening of a new mine site are never present when it finally closes down.

CS Mvurya said the PMLU committee’s objective is to identify appropriate alternative land uses to which the mined land could be put.

“We want to reclaim the post mining landscape in a way that creates shared value in environmental, social and economic benefits for the communities,” said Mvurya.

Mvurya noted that the Kwale PMLU is the first ever post-mining committee established in Kenya since the enactment of the Mining Act 2016.

He said Base Titanium has been a model of excellence in mining operations and a symbol of the transformative potential that sustainable mining activities can bestow on a region.

“We remain committed to supporting mining investors with a view of conferring the multi-fold benefits of minerals to communities, counties and country at large,” said Mvurya.

Mvurya also announced that the government will soon release Sh.2.9 billion mineral royalties to active mining counties.

He said according to the Mining Act of 2016 sharing mineral royalties is at a ratio of 70 per cent to the national government, 20 per cent to the devolved governments and 10 per cent to the host communities.

The minister at the same time said the government has finished a large-scale minerals and extractives resource mapping across the country that sought to help in identifying the location and size of new mineral deposits.

Mvurya says the survey revealed that the country has immense underground wealth of 970 critical minerals in which further exploration is required to establish their economic viability.

He said further mineral resource mapping is hoped to attract new exploration companies to locate ‘bankable’ mineral deposits that are considered commercially viable and increase revenue from an otherwise potentially lucrative mining industry.

“The 970 earth resources include industrial minerals, rare earth, base metals, gemstones and building materials,” he said.

“As a ministry we are determined to see a well-developed mining industry and help boost mineral exploration activities through the Mining Act which replaced the pre independence Mining Act Cap 306 of 1940,” he said.

Courtesy; KNA

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