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Kenya in talks with Britain to get back colonial mineral wealth maps

Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu. PHOTO | FILE
Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya is in talks with former colonial master Britain to access crucial geological data, Mining secretary Dan Kazungu has said.

The UK data could be a huge boost to the budding mining sector as the government races to locate mineral resources that could transform the economy.

“Discussions are at an advanced stage to have Britain repatriate geological data back into Kenya,” Mr Kazungu told the Business Daily in an interview.

He spoke on telephone from the UK after meeting officials of the British Geological Survey (BGS) at their offices in Nottingham.

Mr Kazungu said that following the talks with BGS director John Ludden, Kenya will collaborate on geological data sharing, research and training. The teamwork will see Kenya access funds for research on geological activities.

BGS is a public sector organisation responsible for advising the UK government on geoscience as well as providing impartial geological advice to the industry, academia and the public.

“BGS has almost Sh1 billion for research. They also can access grants of Sh200 billion for specialised research and training on food, water, environment and energy areas,” he said.

Mr Kazungu said BGS wants to make Kenya the hub for research activities in eastern Africa.

On Thursday, Mr Kazungu was scheduled to pitch to global investors Kenya’s mining prospects at a conference in London. He is accompanied by Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Water and Natural Resources chair Amina Abdalla and Geological Surveys acting director Shadrack Kimomo.

Kenya is reported to be sitting on enormous mineral resources that could transform the economy. Geologists and mining firms, however, say it is hard to tell the exact potential of the industry since mapping and quantifica­tion have not been done.

The government has kicked off the process of determining the quantity of Kenya’s minerals.

In July, the Mining ministry invited consultants to help develop a proposal for the planned countrywide aerial survey.

“The main objective is to obtain geophysical data that will form the basis for a review of the country’s geology and mineral resources and their distribution,” said Mining principal secretary Mohammed Mahmud in a notice.

“The ultimate goal is to gain knowledge on quantity and distribution of the country’s mineral resources so as to ensure their sustainable exploitation and utilisation in future,” added Mr Mahmud.

Private companies have been forced to conduct their own expensive mini surveys in areas of interest as there is no public database of what minerals the country has.

In recent years, the country has at­tracted huge interest from both local and foreign firms seeking to exploit what is thought to be vast mineral reserves across the country, including possible deposits of gold, copper, mineral sands and coal.

Tanzania conducted similar studies back in the 1970s and Uganda between 2007 and 2010.

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