Kenya: Mining Firms Back Out of New Licence Issuance Scrutiny

16th March 2015

Half of the 43 mining firms whose licences were revoked last year following a probe into validity of their applications have failed to recover their permits.

A report released on Saturday by the Ministry of Mining, after a year of reviewing new submissions by the firms; states that the 22 did not reapply. The firms were instructed to put in fresh applications after their initial ones were found to be invalid and were given more time to fulfill the set requirements.

“In order to ensure that the process was fair and transparent, all the 43 licence holders/applicants were given an opportunity to demonstrate that the mineral titles issued met the legal and technical requirements, through re-submission of documentation that accompanied their applications,” said Cabinet secretary Najib Balala in the mining implementation status report.

Only four companies were found to have met all criteria and their suspensions were promptly lifted.

Three companies were found to have grossly violated the mining laws in acquisition of their licences leading to outright revocation of the permits.

Out of the 43, that of Cortec Mining Kenya Limited is in abeyance pending a court ruling after it sued the government following the suspension in January 2014. The company is eyeing mining operations in Kwale’s Mrima Hills.

The re-applications of seven other companies failed to meet the full licence requirements. The companies were however removed from the suspension list on condition that they work towards meeting all requirements. So far only one has managed to meet requirements over the last one year and has been cleared while the rest had their re-applications rejected.

According to the Mining Ministry, after preliminary reviews of the suspensions, a total of 32 firms were given a chance to make fresh applications after their previous licences were found to be invalid.

Out of the 32, two withdrew their applications completely, six re-applied and their applications were subsequently approved, two firms asked for more time to meet the requirements and their requests have been granted while 22 did not respond at all.

The various mining licences were reviewed after Balala ordered a probe in September 2013 on all licences issued between January to May 2013 – which was a government transition period – out of concern that most applications were rushed through at a time when a new government was being ushered in.

The report by the taskforce investigating the applications reported in January last year that majority of the licences were irregularly issued, some without proper documents while others went to to speculators who had no intention of prospecting for any minerals but hoped to later sell the rights to the highest bidder.