By MyGov Team
Soapstone carvers in Tabaka, Kisii County, are set to benefit immensely from a value addition center set for construction by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining in the area.
According to the Ministry’s Cabinet Secretary, John Munyes, the value addition center is expected to be complete this June, and will tap into the rich value chain of the precious stone to boost wealth creation and ensure the miners get value for their efforts.
Munyes , who was speaking at Tabaka shopping center in South Mugirango, Kisii, announced that the value addition process will include creation of cottage industries in the area to manufacture chalk, ceramics and pharmaceuticals which will create additional jobs away from the mines.
He said the value addition initiative will save miners from exploitation by middlemen, ensure maximum returns from their products, create extra business and job opportunities and enhance county and national Governments’ revenue.
The CS noted that soapstone is a rare mineral which, if properly exploited and managed, should provide and economic boom for the benefit of the local community and the entire county.
He was accompanied by Kisii Governor, James Ongwae, Mining Principal Secretary, John Omenge, Kisii Senator Prof. Sam Ongeri, women MP Ms. Janet Ongera, and South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro.
“We are determined to stop the exploitation meted out on producers of this rare stone by middle men who buy it cheaply and take it for value addition in Nairobi, Mombasa and even export it to markets in China and South Africa for huge profits,” he said.
He said that apart from the value addition from the soapstone, his Ministry will also pay keen attention to other mining activities like gold mining in Kakamega and the gem stone mining in Taita Taveta in order to maximize profits from the entire mining industry.
Similaly, Munyes said his Ministry will go out of its way to eliminate the rudimentary mining technologies employed by soap stone miners and other miners in the country and also improve safety standards in the mines to minimize accidents..
He instructed officers from the Ministry to liaise with the county officials and hasten the registration of cooperative societies for soap stone miners in Kisii in order to help them collectively benefit from their activity.
Speaking during the occasion, Mr Omenge announced that soap stone mining will be ring fenced and patented through the Mining Act in order to give maximum yields to residents of Tabaka mining area in Kisii County.
Once the soap stone mining sector is ring fenced, Mr. Omenge said, it will be mandatory for miners to pay 70% of the royalties to the nation government, 20% to county government and 10% to the local communities.
On his part, Governor Ongwae said the construction of the proposed Kisii soap stone value addition center at Tabaka, will be a game changer since it will provide direct employment to over 7,000 people.
The Governor noted that soap stone mining in the area, which has been going on since 1880, and has a bed rock of approximately 25km running 800ft deep, will expand its markets from Europe and US to Japan , New Zealand and some Asian countries once the value addition initiative becomes a reality.
He thanked the State Department for Mining for appointing a consulting firm to evaluate the viability of soap stone mining in South Mugirango.
“We believe the process will yield desired results on the commercial and social economic viability of a soap stone value addition center in this County”, said the Governor.
By MyGov Team