Mining Company Cortec Confirms Rare Minerals In Coastal Kenya

    08 August, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

    Recent discoveries of mineral wealth in Kenya could help add to east Africa's biggest economy. The government also is taking steps to improve the openness of the mining industry. But some citizens are concerned that new mining projects will damage local communities.

    Mining companies say, the mineral resources could be worth billions of dollar. Local communities say, they hope this will help their economies. And the government has warned companies about making announcements about new resources before they are confirmed.

    Kenya's Secretary of Mining Najib Balala says the government will ask mining companies for details about their findings before making them public.

    "Any public announcements by a mining company, we as a government needs to have that notification 21 days before their announcements."

    The discoveries also could upset some communities where big mining projects are planned. One example is the recent discoveries of rare minerals in the Mrima Hills in the coast area of kwale. The mining company Cortec reported finding a deposit of more than 600 kilograms of Niobium. The element is used in making steel and metal mixtures called superconducting alloys that allow electric currents  to travel very easily.

    Cortec says the discovery could be worth 50 billion dollars. But a dispute has begun between the company, the government and the local communities. Leaders of the Mijikenda ethnic group which lives near Kenya's coast, say they practise their religion in the Mrima Hills.

    Joseph Morando is an official of the kaya people who are part of the local ethnic group. He says his people are oppose to mineral mining in the Mrima forest and in the area. He says they are appealing to the government to save the area which is an important part of their history. The area also is listed as a world heritage site by the United Nations cultural agency or UNESCO.

    The Kenya government has not announced how payments it receives from mining companies called royalties would be used. Mining Secretary Najib Balala is expected to present legislation, proposing that the central government take 70% of mining royalty, local government would receive 25% and local communities would receive 5%.

    The government says it hopes that reforms in the mining industry will improve openness. Mr Balala says that Kenya canceled 31 mining licences during the first half of this year, because of concerns over the process for receiving a licence to mine.

    That's this week's Economics Report from VOA Learning English.