• May 27, 2024
  • Last Update May 27, 2024 12:34 PM
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State to tighten mineral monitoring system checks at Kenya’s biggest sea port

State to tighten mineral monitoring system checks at Kenya’s biggest sea port

Mombasa

Monday May 13 2024

KNA by Wagema Mwangi

The government is enhancing the surveillance capabilities at Port of Mombasa by strengthening the monitoring systems to check on compliance standards for documentation on mineral exports and imports as part of reforms aimed at eradicating smuggling of minerals through the busiest hub in the region.

Principal Secretary (PS) for State Department for Mining Elijah Mwangi termed the Mombasa Port as a critically strategic gateway in the region for investors in the mineral exportation and importation business; a fact that called for enhanced surveillance, monitoring and scrutiny to ensure the stringent compliance standards as prescribed by the Mining Act 2016 have been fulfilled.

Speaking in Mombasa County during an hours-long meeting with mining officials in the region over modalities of establishing robust mineral checks, the PS underscored the significance of appropriate documentation for minerals coming through and transiting through the port.

He stated that intensified vigilance by the mining officials was one of the main guarantees Kenya had towards guarding herself against losing revenue through under-declaration or mis-declaration of minerals by unscrupulous traders who might smuggle their products through the port.

“The port is a critical organ in the mineral export and import business for investors in this sector. Our main role and call are to confirm and authenticate the correctness and validity of the documents and verification issued to players in this sector before minerals leave or come in. We must establish if the investors have acquired the necessary paperwork to allow them export or import minerals,” explained the PS.

Since the completion of the National Aerial Geo-Physical Survey that led to the discovery of 970 mineral occurrences in the country, Kenya has been positioning herself as an emerging powerhouse in mineral processing and trading in the region.

The subsequent discoveries of strategic minerals like Coltan, Nickel and Copper is seen as a pointer to the mining sector’s critical role in bolstering transition to green energy and playing a pivotal role in the country’s economic transformation.

With the government establishing a robust framework for collecting levies and royalties from the mineral resources, the need for enhancing the capacity for monitoring the country’s entry and exit points to tighten controls on mineral trade becomes a necessity.

Data on mineral exports Kenya indicates the country’s ability to grow her export volumes significantly with minerals like Soda Ash, Titanium, Gold, Coal, Gemstones, Manganese Iron Ore, Silica sands, Gypsum and Diatomite showing potential to further bolster the export market.

In the 2022/23 financial year, Kenya’s mineral exports were at 5.9 percent with a total mineral export value of approximately Sh63 billion.

With the sector currently contributing one percent to the national GDP, the mining reforms are expected to increase the contribution to at least 10 percent.

That target, the PS stated, would be made possible through undertaking extensive reforms to streamline the mining ecosystem from the extraction to exportation.

The creation of strong and elaborate regulatory structures is aimed at ridding the sector off illegalities including mineral smuggling, mis-declaration of minerals and under declaration of volumes at the port.

“The government should receive its rightful share of revenue from mineral resources. We hold this resource in trust for Kenyans. Royalties paid go to the communities and counties and our duty is to make sure Kenyans get their revenue from minerals,” he noted.

The 2022 Economic Survey projects that the mining sector is set to have exponential growth. In 2021, the total value of minerals produced in Kenya increased by 33 percent from Sh22.7 billion in 2020 to Sh30.2 billion in 2021.

The report also indicates that exports for minerals like Titanium and concentrates have been rising steadily over the years.

With the anticipation of opening up of the international market for several minerals including manganese, Kenya is expected to experience a surge in mineral export-oriented businesses to meet the demand at the global market.

Additionally, with the growth and expansion of the East African Community (EAC) trading bloc to include mineral-rich countries like DRC, the Mombasa Port is expected to experience significant rise in export activities.

The move by the State Department to enhance surveillance at the port over mineral exports and imports has received backing from key stakeholders in the sector.

The Kenya Chambers of Mines leadership chair Dr. Patrick Kanyoro says such mineral surveillance should further be extended to all ports of entry in Kenya.

He states that smuggling takes many forms including trading without paying the royalties and wrongful declaration of minerals.

He adds that the State Department should work closely with the industry and relevant stakeholders to place self-regulating mechanisms to help manage smuggling in all forms.

“Smuggling is not healthy for the economy. Because over regulation by means of fees and levies might be counterproductive for the sector, the best way is to work with stakeholders to craft sustainable measures to curb smuggling and help the industry attain robust growth,” he says.

Courtesy: KNA

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