State to lift mining permits freeze as survey ends June


A piece of rock with gold at Macalder in Migori County. PHOTO | FILE

The conclusion of a survey to map Kenya's mineral deposits in June will pave way for the lifting of a moratorium on exploration licences, the Mineral Rights Board now says.

Kenya is seeking to determine the quantity of its underground minerals. The Mining ministry earlier said it plans to spend Sh3 billion on the first phase covering among others Migori, Homa Bay, Siaya, Kakamega and Busia counties.

The survey, which was set to be concluded late last year is being conducted jointly by the Ministries of Interior, Defense and Mining.

"Once the areas' survey has been completed the moratorium can be lifted," Stephen Kuria, the chair of the mineral rights board told the Business Daily in an interview.

Kenya has not renewed or issued any new mining licences since 2015 when then Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala revoked the licences of 65 companies, forcing mining firms to operate under a gazette notice.

This has seen the Kenya Chamber of Mines (KCM) call on the Ministry of Mining to withdraw the moratorium, saying it is hurting the sector.

In recent years the country has attracted increasing interest from both local and foreign firms seeking to exploit what is speculated to be significant mineral potential across the country, including possible large deposits of gold, copper, mineral sands and coal.

Over the last two years, about 150 companies have presented applications for exploration licences while another 100 have applied for the dealer’s licence through the mining cadastre portal, according to KCM.

The aerial survey was expected to start in western Kenya where gold has been discovered.