• April 23, 2024
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Government groups artisanal miners, targeting value addition

Government groups artisanal miners, targeting value addition

Nakuru,

Monday, March 18, 2024

KNA by Anne Sabuni

The government will redeploy minerals’ testing laboratory services to regions across the country to help small scale miners test their products before sale, even as they joined cooperatives to keep away exploiters.

Principal Secretary in the State Department for Mining Elijah Mwangi noted that eight laboratories had been procured to be redeployed across the country, as a way of cushioning the artisanal miners against exploitation and having them get value for their minerals.

He noted that the laboratory service was a way of having the miners ascertain the quality of their commodity before selling, to avert being exploited by buyers, who demanded lower prices as a result of non-verification of the content of their products.

“We are calling upon anyone dealing, mining or exploiting minerals to have mineral rights, permits and licenses. The biggest threat to this sector is illegal mining that denies the government revenue, while invading licensed areas,” said Mwangi, who noted that the mining police unit had been launched to help enforce the law.

The PS noted that the Artisanal Miners had the potential of helping the government fetch up to 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current one percent, if the potential of these artisanal miners was exploited fully, urging the miners to also pay royalties.

“We want to ensure that they aggregate their commodities and negotiate for better prices, as we work towards decriminalizing their operations by licensing them and giving them documentation that will serve as collateral for loans and asset financing.

“We want to bring more investors into the sector to add value to our strategic minerals. We have so far identified one for Fluorspar exploitation in Elgeyo Marakwet as well as granite and gold in the Western region.”He said.

“If we continue exporting raw ore and minerals we may not grow. We therefore have a policy in place to ensure in-county mineral processing that will ensure all gold will be value-added locally as we account for every production within the country,” added Mwangi, noting that plans were underway to get value addition investors for copper and iron ore.

The PS spoke in Nakuru today when he launched the Rift Valley Regional sensitization exercise for the artisanal cooperatives leaders.

The leaders will be capacity built and sensitized on the various laws and policies, with an Artisanal Mining Committee to be established to act as a bridge between the miners and the government.

The country has about one million artisanal miners that the government targets to group in cooperatives, for bargaining power as well as self-regulation.

So far 206 cooperatives have been formed with 200 more expected to be brought on board.The PS noted that 970 mineral occurrences were identified across the country with14 strategic minerals such as copper, chromite, coltan and layer earth.

Others include 56 construction and industry minerals such as granite and gypsum; with the government targeting more.

“With the right intervention, we are targeting Sh118 billion investment to this industry that will employ up to 26, 000 people. The Artisanals will be able to grow their revenue from Sh600 per head to around Sh1, 600 per head, daily,” added Mwangi.

Alice Apua, a Gold Miner from Napuslup Mining and Marketing Cooperative Society in Turkana County, lauded the move to have them grouped, noting that the cooperatives had enhanced their market reach, with revenue streams expected to go up.

Apua, who decried lack of modernized equipment to increase their productivity, noted that the crude equipment they employed only served to fetch little, as hard rocks were difficult to crack.

“Artisanal Miners do not have a cover against accidents and losses. It is our hope that this move will open us to have insurance covers as well as collateral for loans,” added Apua, Chair to the group based at Noiman Location.

The miner, who added that the group of 50 members had been mining since 1982, decried discrimination against women miners.

Courtesy; KNA

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