Companies taken to task in row over mining cash

Ikolomani gold

Residents of Ikolomani in Kakamega County mine gold at Sigalagala.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Local leaders have accused mining companies in the county of failing to pay levies and royalties running into millions of shillings.

This comes after it emerged that Kwale, Kilifi and Kajiado will receive the lion’s share of the Sh2.9 billion mining proceeds held by the National Treasury since 2016.

The Ministry of Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs revealed that Kwale will receive Sh1.1 billion, Kilifi Sh950 million and Kajiado Sh660 million. Taita Taveta County is set to receive Sh51.7 million from the government as its share of the Sh14.7 billion revenue collected since 2016. The counties’ share of the money had been held in national government coffers due to failure by Treasury to put in place a legal framework for its sharing.

According to the Mining Act, 2016, the national government should get 70 per cent of mineral royalties, 20 per cent should go to county governments and 10 per cent should be retained by the community.

During a heated session at the county assembly in Wundanyi on Friday, members accused mining companies of failing to remit the required royalties to the government as expected.

Budget, Finance and Appropriation Committee chair Jimmy Mwamidi noted that, despite Taita Taveta having vast amounts of precious minerals like gemstones, the county remains one of the poorest.

He claimed the county’s mineral wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few individuals.

The firms, the MCA further said, generate millions of shillings while locals are only left to deal with a degraded and polluted environmental and poverty.

Lamenting that locals “are not getting any benefit from the mineral resources,” the legislator accused miners, especially of gemstones, of operating without licences and failing to pay taxes to the county government.

“The money we are set to get as listed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation is a mockery,” he said, and urged “all leaders and residents to help us in making noise about this issue.”

The county assembly recently petitioned Mining Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya to suspend all mining activities in the county until miners come to an agreement with the county government on taxes and royalties.

MCAs claimed lack of information about the mining companies in the county had contributed to the loss of revenues in form of royalties.

“There are a lot of mining activities going on in our area. Surprisingly, the county government lacks adequate data on them,” Mr Mwamidi said.

Bomeni MCA Chrispus Tondoo said that, despite the Mining Act and the Constitution providing enough regulation to ensure communities received their fair share of mining revenues as well as other benefits, the residents were still being oppressed by the companies.

“These laws need to be enforced and people empowered to know their rights,” he said.

The county has industrial minerals like iron ore, limestone, quartz and manganese alongside precious stones such as Tsavorite (green garnets), red garnets, ruby, sapphire, tourmalines, and rhodolites. The MCAs also challenged mining companies to engage in corporate social responsibility programmes.