Counties

Residents scramble for mineral rock worth millions in Isiolo

rock

A section of Merti in Isiolo County. The discovery of a mineral rock worth millions of shillings in Merti Sub-County in Isiolo has caused a scramble among county residents and beyond. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The discovery of a valuable mineral rock in Merti Sub-County in Isiolo has caused a scramble among county residents and beyond.

The discovery of metallic meteorites, said to be rich in iron, has attracted hundreds of prospectors from Isiolo, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit and Nairobi counties to Badan Shida in Baasa location.

Locals claim the mineral has also been discovered in Hawaye, Sericho in Garba-Tulla Sub-County after they extended their search but authorities are yet to confirm.

Makeshift camps

Makeshift camps have been erected in the area as the miners continue to harvest the iron-rich stone.

Small businesses and makeshift shops have also sprouted, supplying foodstuff and the scarce water, with more prospectors expected at the site, including returning ones bring more mining equipment.

The government has had to beef up security in the area following the discovery.

On Tuesday, a team of officers, led by Merti OCPD Gifinalis Barasa, visited the area and found miners converged around the 400m² area.

Merti Deputy County Commissioner Julius Maiyo said officers were assigned to beef up security in the area due to the scramble.

He said they have collected samples of the rock will be sent to Nairobi for confirmation.

“There is need to assign police officers to cover the area since there is likelihood of insecurity due to the value of the stone,” noted the DCC.

A meteorite rock is estimated to worth between Sh50,000 to Sh100,000 per kilogramme.

Road crash

The mineral-rush is said to have caused a road crash when a prospector's vehicle was involved in an accident on Monday near Baranbate in Garba Tulla.

A casual worker died on the spot and five others were injured.

“The stone that was earlier on top ground has all been picked and machines are being used to locate more of the precious metal underground,” said Mr Maiyo.

Chiefs have been directed to form committees to ensure order is maintained.

The news of the precious rock was first reported by a herder who allegedly found it last week and sold it to brokers from Nairobi at Sh5.4 million.

Modern machines

Modern machines including earth drilling equipment are said to have been brought to the area by some prospectors from five counties to gather more mineral.

“Some buyers have now resorted to hiring their own labourers since locals have discovered that the precious mineral is quite expensive than what they receive from the middle men,” said a local who sought anonymity.