Mining ministry suspends Base exploration activities

Mining ministry suspends Base exploration activities

Mining firm Base Titanium has been dealt a blow after the Ministry of Mining ordered the firm to suspend exploration activities in Kwale County.

This comes after area residents raised objections to Base’s exploration activities which could displace them from their land.

Mining Secretary Dan Kazungu says that while the ministry approved the exploration license, Base Titanium still has to seek clearance from the Kwale County Government and locals before carrying out its activities.

“What Base needs to do is to come and talk to the Kwale County government and the locals as well and get what I would call a social license before continuing,” Mr Kazungu said.

Base Titanium, which runs a titanium mine in Kwale, wants to expand its exploration area by 136 square kilometers.

The Ministry gazzeted the exploration license in August, with Mr Kazungu insisting locals did not raise any objections during the hearing period.

Speaking during a town hall meeting in Kwale, The CS however stressed that mining companies need to continuously engage local communities to avoid disruptions.

Nominated member of parliament Zulekha Juma said an independent human right organization should visit the area and investigate the matter to uncertain whether a license has been issued or not.

“We would like a human right organization to come and its own investigation so that the locals can understand what is going on” she said.

Base Titanium was commissioned in October 2013 and has since mined more than 22.2 million tons of rutile, ilmenite and zircon.

Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya says the national government needs to consult county governments before making decisions that concern their jurisdictions.

“We have a new constitution which puts the Kenyan citizens at the forefront of any development,” Mr Mvurya said.

Base Titanium, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian mining firm Base Resources, is expecting production to increase by more than 10 percent in the financial year 2017 on the back of improved efficiency from new equipment which employs modern technology it has installed.

Report by Lawrence Ng’ang’a

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