Residents demand royalties share as Base closes shop

Base Titanium mining plant in Kwale County.

Photo credit: File | Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Residents of Kwale have renewed their call for the government to release mineral royalties to those affected by Base Titanium's mining operations, even as the company nears an end to its operations in Kwale County.

Speaking in Diani, the residents of Lungalunga and Msambweni, who were relocated to pave the way for the construction of the mining firm said the payment was long overdue.

In its annual financial reports, Base Titanium has been announcing the amounts of royalties as part of payments to the government based on their profits.

In the 2023 financial year for instance, the government received $14.9 million (Sh1.9 billion at current exchange rates) in mineral royalties.

The residents' plea comes as Base Titanium prepares to close shop at the end of the year, citing the depletion of minerals in their licensed areas.

The miner's Australia-based parent company, Base Resources, is also set to be acquired by the US firm, Energy Fuels, in a Sh31.8b (375 million Australian dollars) deal. Base Resources took over the Kwale operation from Canada’s Tiomin Resources in 2010 for $3 million.

“We've been promised the royalties for a long time with no success,” said Sabina Saiti, a resident.

The residents' hopes were raised in 2022, when their former Governor Salim Mvurya, was appointed the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Mining, promising to ensure the royalties standoff is resolved.

They now want to be involved in a special committee formed to see how the billions of shillings paid by Base Titanium to the National Treasury, will be distributed.

Kwale Mining Alliance Coordinator Kashi Jermaine asked the residents to be patient as new strategies are set up for the distribution, and asked them to plan on sustainable projects they will undertake once the money is released to them.

For the six months to December 2023, royalties payment by Base Titanium to the Treasury stood at Sh488 million.

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