By Grace Owiti
Governor Stephen Sang of Nandi County has lauded the State Department for Mining for its commitment in promoting the mining sector in the country, and Nandi in particular.
Governor Sang said that Nandi has huge unexploited gold deposits and appealed to the department to exploit them for the benefit of the local people.
He further supported the government for providing a conducive and sustainable environment for investment in the sector, adding that his County fully supports investors in the gold mining sector in Nandi since the industry creates wealth and employment for the youth besides uplifting the living standards of the residents.
He added that investors will contribute to the community’s well-being through various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.
Governor Sang was speaking in his Boardroom at the County headquarters in Kapsabet when he received the Principal Secretary, State Department for Mining Mr. John Omenge who called on him to discuss how best to promote mining in the County, and gold in particular.
The Governor expressed disappointment at the disharmony between the leading miner in the County, Karebe Mines and the land owner, who has refused to renew the land lease, yet Karebe is the largest investor in the Sector in Nandi County and one of the leading gold miners in the country.
He said that it was regrettable that political interference has caused tension between the two, leading to the temporary closure of the mine through a court order.
Governor Sang said that it was imperative that arbitration methods were employed exhaustively to address the concerns to settle such matters out of court.
He however urged the parties to talk to each other without interference from any quarter, if they had to solve the matter amicably and continue working together.
“We cannot encourage foreign investors into the country, only to be disappointed by our people, yet they have invested billions of shillings and they also provide Corporate Social Responsibility by funding priority projects in the respective communities”, he added.
Mr Omenge shared similar sentiments with the Governor in respect to investment in the mining sector, calling on the community to embrace a harmonious working relationship with investors, if they are to benefit from the investment.
He said it was a pity that the land dispute between Karebe Mines and the land owner had to end up in court, urging land owners to support investments by providing favorable terms for investment.
“In the event of disagreement, it’s prudent to engage the local community leaders, local administration and County government instead of rushing to court”, said the PS.
The PS said that it was unfortunate that Karebe Mines operations were suspended by the court, yet Karabe was one of the leading gold mining companies in the country.
Nandi County has the highest deposits of gold in Kenya and a great potential to increase revenue not only for Nandi County, but to the national economic growth in terms of revenue and royalties, the PS said.
Mr Omenge called on politicians to support and protect the interest of both the local communities and investors if the country was to benefit fully from the mineral wealth that Kenya is home to.
“We don’t want to lose investors, because it takes a lot and time to get them to invest in the Sector’, he noted.
Similarly, he said, it is necessary to support the sector as it supplements the government’s effort in the creation of wealth and employment for the young people in particular.
“We have heard enough that mining has a great potential. Now it is time to fully explore and exploit this potential and this can best be done through encouraging investors to unlock this potential, taking cognizance that mining is a capital intensive investment and that it takes a long time before one can start reaping the benefits from the investment,” he said.
In an effort to promote mining, the State Department has put in place a strategy that includes total restructuring of the State Department for Mining, including the establishment of 12 new offices in Nairobi and Mombasa to ensure that all mineral exports and imports adhere to the provision of the Mining Act 2016 and other relevant laws and regulation on duties, taxes and royalties.
Among the 12 new offices, are four (4) border offices at Malaba, Busia, Isebania and Namanga to control all border entry points to reduce incidents of illicit mineral trade along the borders that has been robbing the government of huge sums of money in terms of taxes; the officers will ensure that all mineral products leaving or entering the country pay due taxes.
Similarly the officers manning these stations will also ensure quantities and qualities of minerals declared by the investors are complaint with the ones on record and that all imports and exports adhere to the relevant laws, rules and regulations.
In addition, the PS said that the State Department was rolling out Community Development Agreement ( CDAs) at county level, and that the CDA Framework has been approved by the Attorney General’s Office.
This Agreement provides for at least one (1%) of the investors’ annual profit set aside for the respective community, this is in addition to the royalties of 70%, 20% and 10 % to the national, county and community respectively. The PS pointed out.
Mr.Omenge called for harmony among the landowners, community and investors, adding that issues of land and local content were major hindrance to the full exploitation of our mineral and natural resources. Towards this end, the PS said some foreign investors had engaged local public relations firms or community liaison between them and the local communities to ensure clear understanding and hence cordial relationship between the two.
As regards the status at Karebe Mines, the PS urged investors to engage community liaison as a go between the local communities and the investor to avoid misunderstanding, adding that the situation would have been resolved amicably through community liaison. He said it was unfortunate that the matter had to end up court, with a suspension of the operation of Karebe Mine.
In an endeavour to settle the land matter, the PS said he will liaise with the County government and the County Commissioner to pursue the matter to bring the two parties, Karebe and the land owner together amicable to settle the contract once and for all, adding that the hostility was working against all parties including both the County and national governments.
He called on communities to encouraged investors and work well with them for mutual benefit of both parties, “ wining an investors confidence in a short time is not easy, and investing in mining requires heavy capital, lets therefore treat them well, if we are to maximize on our mineral wealth as a country”, the PS stated.