Mining licence was illegal, says Najib Balala

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during a cabinet retreat in Nanyuki on March 5, 2014.

 

Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during a cabinet retreat in Nanyuki on March 5, 2014. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Summary

  • State Counsel Emmanuel Bitta said Mr Balala’s decision was backed by law.
  • Cortec Ltd sued the ministry and Mr Balala for cancelling its special licence to mine niobium at Mrima Hill in Kwale.

By PAUL OGEMBA

Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has defended his decision to cancel the licence of a mining company which he said had acquired the permit irregularly.

Mr Balala said through his lawyer, Mr Fred Ngatia, that the special mining licence given to Cortec Mining-Kenya Ltd was illegal and that he had a duty to protect public property by revoking it alongside 43 others.

“The legality of the licence and authority to mine issued to the company are in doubt since the land falls under the jurisdiction of the Kenya Forests and the National Museums. No environmental assessment licence has been legally issued to the area in dispute,” said Mr Ngatia.

The lawyer accused Cortec of lying to court that it had spent more than Sh450 million on mining prospects in Mrima Hills in Kwale County.

‘MADE DISPARAGING REMARKS’

“Their case is that they have spent vast resources which are at risk of loss but even if that was the case, it will go against the National Environmental Management Authority Act, which demands that before you invest in mining you must obtain a clearance licence,” he said and asked the court to consider the negative conduct of the firm in the dispute.

“The applicant is behaving like they are above reproach. Despite the fact that the CS was acting on the basis of sound advice and in public interest, they have made disparaging remarks which are cruel and unworthy of any person,” he said.

State Counsel Emmanuel Bitta said Mr Balala’s decision was backed by law after he was satisfied that the licence was obtained irregularly.

Mr Taid Ali, representing Basu Mining Company, added a twist to the dispute when he said that the firm was the owner of the disputed mining fields after it got permission from Kwale County Council.

Cortec Ltd sued the ministry and Mr Balala for cancelling its special licence to mine niobium at Mrima Hill in Kwale in August last year.
Hearing continues on Thursday.

SOURCE: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Cortec-Najib-Balala-Mining-Licence-Kwale/-/1056/2455092/-/hcgkm/-/index.html

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