Govt to regulate gemstone trade
The Ministry of Mining is working on regulations to govern artisanal and small scale miners in the country.
This is after reported smuggling of minerals such as rubies and gemstones from the country as their activities are highly unregulated.
According to Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu, the government has put a system in place to process the reviewing of mining regulatory framework including addressing royalties, community consent on mineral concessions and formalization of artisanal miners.
“Another key message is to demonstrate to potential investors the efforts being undertaken by the government to facilitate growth of the mining sector. Central to this is the Mining Act 2016, but other initiatives are equally important, example the plan to conduct the aerial geographical survey, the huge investments being made in infrastructure and the drive to lower the cost of energy through increased production and improved delivery,” Mr Kazungu said.
He made the remarks during the Kenya Mining Forum bringing together players in the mining sector.
Artisanal activities are responsible for over 60 percent of annual gemstone production.
Martin Ayisi, a mining law consultant said the new regime provides a stable, predictable secure and transparent investment climate for explorers, investors and developers
“Creation of mineral rights board will advise the cabinet secretary on grant, renewal, transfer, and revocation of mineral rights. Regulators are not ready and capacity to enforce the law and coordination among key regulators (NEMA and KRA) are very weak,” Mr Ayisi said
It is estimated that artisanal miners extracted 23 tons of minerals worth an estimated Sh74 billion in 2014.
Most of the minerals were however smuggled out of the country by middlemen allegedly from India and Sri Lanka to waiting buyers who then deliver to global markets.
One piece of green garnet or green tourmaline can fetch up to Sh300,000 per carat.
Despite gemstone availability, there is no valuation of procedure to measure the worth of stones before they are exported.
The mining which takes place in very remote areas usually involves poor and vulnerable people subjected to harsh working conditions.
Mr Kazungu said gem grading and credible valuation is key to stabilizing Kenya’s economy.
Gemstones are exported without the appropriate value and taxation and as a result both the miner and the government lose money.
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