Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya has promised to broker a deal between an investor extracting iron ore in Taita Taveta County and a ranch over the implementation of the lease agreement.
The agreement was signed between the investor, Samruddha Resources Kenya Limited, and Kishushe Ranch Cooperative Society Limited in 2018.
Senior officials of the ranch want to kick out the investor, accusing him of failing to adhere to the terms of the variation agreement.
The investor, however, dismisses the allegations as false and propaganda out to malign him.
Last week, members of the ranch held a peaceful demonstration and asked the government to revoke the investor’s mining consent.
Chombo Shete, the ranch chairman, said they had agreed with the investor to pay Sh100 million as goodwill payment reserved under Schedule 2 of the original agreement over a five-year spread.
He said other issues agreed upon in the agreement included the procurement of a water rig and payment of Sh10 million for corporate social responsibility (CSR), which has not been done.
Shete said the investor was also required to pay Sh50 per ton of iron ore transported from the site.
“The investor has ignored all these agreements and that is why we want him out of the site,” he said.
The investor, however, said he has so far employed 800 local youth and paid over Sh74 million to the ranch as agreed in the lease agreement.
“The company’s lease agreement runs up to 2020. We are aware that the ranch wants to kick me out to bring in another investor. I have tried in vain to meet them to iron out some differences but they have been snubbing me,” said Pawar Parag from the mining company.
He said the company has paid over Sh30 million cess and Sh10 million for CSR.
“As far as we are concerned, the company has paid all that is due for the ranch from 2018 to date,” he said as he showed bank statements to support his claim.
During his impromptu visit to Wanjala Mining Field in Taita Sub-county, accompanied by senior county and national government officials yesterday, Mvurya said he will soon organise a consultative meeting in Nairobi to help resolve the stalemate for the benefit of the local community.
“I will soon bring together the investor, ranch officials, the governor and all elected leaders in the region in a roundtable meeting to resolve the standoff,” said the CS, who inspected the mining field in Kishushe location.
Mvurya was accompanied by, among others, Governor Andrew Mwadime, County Commissioner Loyford Kibaara, Senator Jones Mwaruma and MPs Lydia Haika, Danson Mwashako, John Bwire and County Assembly Minority Leader Newton Kifuso.
Mvurya told investors to operate in accordance with the law, failure to which the licences will be revoked by the government.
He said the government was finalising the mining regulations to guide on sharing of mineral royalties in a move that will allow county governments and communities living in mining areas to receive their share of royalties from mineral resources.
“My ministry team is currently finalising the regulations for the operationalisation of the new Mining Act. The regulations will soon be taken to Parliament and once approved, the communities will start receiving their rightful share of revenues from minerals,” Mvurya told a public meeting at Kishushe Primary school.
The Mining Act 2016 provides that revenue from minerals be shared between the national government, the county government and the community living in the mining areas.
The county government should recive 20 per cent as mineral royalties, while residents, through the development agreement committee, get 10 per cent. The national government retains 70 per cent.
Governor Mwadime assured county residents that he will ensure they benefit from their rich mineral resources.
He said the Kishushe community and the county government must get their rightful share of mineral royalties according to the law.
“God gave us these resources to help alleviate poverty and address the economic challenges facing our people. I will not relent in pushing the national government to pay our royalties. The money will help us pay school fees and address other problems facing our population,” Mwadime said.