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Spike in mineral smuggling stirs state into action

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

The Mining ministry has raised the alarm over increased smuggling of minerals in the past two months.

Mining secretary Dan Kazungu said most cases involved undocumented exports and imports. Illegal business done through the Mombasa port and other exit channels, he said, hurts the sector and the general investment pipeline.

Mr Kazungu spoke at the port on Friday after a meeting with the facility stakeholders.

The port is said to be the favoured gateway by the traders.

“We want to ensure that mineral exports and imports are not done illegally. We are very serious about this because the port of Mombasa is the gateway to East and Central Africa,” said Mr Kazungu.

Among the minerals that dominate the illicit business is bulk manganese, copper, iron, titanium and gold.

Increased smuggling, the minister said, posed the danger of watering down the value of the country’s exports.

“Once those involved in this business get the licences, the relevant authorities will have the chance of ensuring whatever is exported is based on the right testing so that there is no under valuation of our minerals that are shipped to other countries,” he said.

Mr Kazungu said the ministry was concerned about the 2016 report by the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa, which noted that continent lost over $60 billion to the illicit trade.

He said that the ministry has put up measures to seal the loopholes. Among them is to sensitise businessmen on the mining law.

“We are also working closely with the Customs Department and Ministry of Interior, which enforce the law to ensure things go according to the legal frame work,” he said.