What you need to know:
- Kakamega is one of the counties identified by the national government for the development of different value addition and mineral processing centres.
- Mining CS Salim Mvurya said the county government has already provided land for the refinery, which will be registered under his ministry.
The national government has revived plans to establish a gold refinery in the county to benefit over 15,000 artisanal miners, Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya has said.
This comes after similar plans to put up the Sh1.5 billion plant stalled two years ago. Mr Mvurya revealed that plans were underway to float an international tender for the project.
He said Kakamega is one of the counties identified by the national government for the development of different value addition and mineral processing centres across the country.
The CS said the county government has already provided land for the refinery, which will be registered under his ministry.
“The international bid to be placed is part of the value addition resolution that we have made. We want to make the Western region a centre of excellence for gold refineries, benefiting neighbouring counties like Vihiga, Siaya,” said Mr Mvurya.
The plant is expected to receive gold from across the country, purify, grade and brand the commodity before it is exported, boosting earnings to the miners.
The CS said an attempt by the government to identify an investor flopped in 2021after the ministry was advised that the process did not meet the threshold prescribed under Section 121 of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2015.
The county government subsequently signed a memorandum of understanding with a private firm, Ms Huno Kenya Company Limited, in July last year but it later emerged that the company lacked a valid contract.
The ministry, he nevertheless pointed out, has started consultation with the county government regarding a new partnership with the private investor.
“Upon conclusion of these consultations, the project will take off,” he said. According to government data, Kakamega County has at least 1.31 million ounces of gold deposits along the Lirhanda corridor valued at Sh171 billion.
The corridor stretches from Shinyalu to Ikolomani, with part of it being in neighbouring Vihiga County.
An exploration firm, Shanta Gold, identified deposits at seven different intersections in the county in 2021, putting the gold deposits at 1.31 million ounces valued at Sh164 billion and expects the mining period to last approximately 10 years.
In 2015, Acacia Mining Company, which was also exploring the mineral in the Lihranda corridor, announced the discovery of 1.31 million ounces at 12.1 grammes per tonne.
News that the government is seeking an investor to put up a refinery has elated Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale.
“Could the cabinet secretary confirm that this bid will also involve an attempt to bring in an investor to carry out gold mining?” posed the Senate Majority Whip.
Mr Mvurya said the government is working to ensure there is an organised gold mining and refining in Kakamega County and across the country as the lack of a refinery has led to mushrooming of unregulated operations that are exploiting artisanal miners.
“Right now, we have companies that have been prospecting and some of them will graduate into mining licences very soon,” he said.
All gold mining activities in the county are carried out by artisanal miners who operate informally as they have not been issued with permits under Section 95 of the Mining Act, 2016.
This is because of the moratorium that had been imposed in December 2019 against issuance of licences and permits.
All other operators hold prospecting licences. A few have applied for licences over the past few years, but these have not been processed due to the prevailing moratorium on issuance of mineral rights.
However, the CS said his ministry has put in place measures to start granting artisanal miners permits upon lifting of the moratorium.
These measures include the gazettement of the Kakamega County Artisanal Mining Committee in accordance with Section 94 of the Mining Act, 2016. The committee is comprised of members of the local artisanal mining association.