Nandi's Karebe Gold Mine asks police to probe repeat attacks

Karebe Gold Mine

A site at Karebe Gold Mine in Chemase, Nandi County, as pictured during construction on September 25, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Karebe Gold Mine, which operates in Chemasi and is famed as the largest gold producer in Kenya, recently got its licence to mine gold in Nandi for 25 years.

A mining firm based in Nandi County wants police to investigate an attack that saw equipment vandalised and its managing director's house burnt, in what it says could be because of a business rivalry.

Karebe Gold Mine, which operates in Chemasi and is famed as the largest gold producer in Kenya, recently got its licence to mine gold in Nandi for 25 years.

A total of 13 people were arrested in the Friday incident in which two of the company’s vehicles were also set ablaze.

The incident, the latest in a series of many, is said to have happened after people armed with crude weapons and petrol broke the gate to gain access to a highly guarded premise. Police, their dogs and CCTV surveillance are available throughout.

The firm now wants Vigilance House, the police headquarters, to follow up on the matter it says is threatening its planned operations.

Several breaches

In a statement, Karebe chairman Charlie Tyron noted the incident was not the first of its kind.

“Over the past six months, we have experienced a range of security breaches aimed at destabilising our operations. We are calling on both the local and national governments to heighten security in the area in order to restore a conducive operating environment,” Mr Tyron said in a statement.

He asked the authorities to ensure the company receives the security it needs to operate.

“We sincerely hope that the national and county governments will work together, support this critical investment in Nandi County and ensure the law is upheld in future and that the company can get back into production after 18 months of stoppages," the chair said.

"We have been the victim of sabotage, questionable litigation in the courts and repeated infringements of the law. We hope we can now work freely and without hindrance.”

Attackers fearless

In a letter to Vigilance House, the company’s Managing Director David May said it appears the attackers are not afraid to face the consequences of their actions.

“It is becoming increasingly frustrating to witness the law being broken in such a blatant manner by a small team of rogue, illegal miners and yet the company is at loss as to why the police allow them to continue unchallenged," Mr May said in his letter to the police headquarters, demanding action.

"Over the Easter weekend, the illegal miners attended a local funeral and openly announced their intention to continue mining underground in Karebe’s shafts, as well as assault anyone supporting or working at the company."

Mr May, whose house was burnt in the Friday incident, said: “We are utterly dismayed to see the law being repeatedly broken and no action taken.”

“The local police have stated informally that they are unwilling to act as the situation is political. The police’s action is in contravention of the Constitution of Kenya and their moral duty. We urgently request disciplinary intervention before matters escalate and our staff are assaulted or even killed by the perpetrators."

CS Munyes lauds Karebe gold mining company while on a tour of Nandi's gold deposits sites

Court case on

Tinderet Deputy Commissioner Easter Oyugi Odhiambo said people suspected to be behind the move will be arraigned on Monday.

Mr Odhiambo also issued a stern warning to individuals operating mines in the area without valid licences, saying action will be taken against them.

Meanwhile, police officers have been deployed to man Karebe following the rising tensions and continued acts of lawlessness.

Since 2018, several cases of armed robbery have been reported, with Mr May’s team blaming competitors and local politicians.

Karebe has been in operation at Chemase location in Chemelil Ward for the past 12 years. 

The company says the licence given to it in April by Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes grants it the sole right to extract gold within an area of 85 square kilometres, without interference.

Due to a land dispute between Karebe and Nandi/ Chemase Mining Company, the firm relocated from its previous plant to a new site at Kamuny, where it acquired land after obtaining the license.

Nandi has a huge deposit of gold along the Nandi Escarpment in Tinderet Constituency.