Oversight and policy

Responsibility for development of oil and gas and mineral resources sector activities in Kenya belongs to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining.

The Ministry has oversight over up-stream oil and gas and downstream petroleum and coal and is responsible for framing the required policies to create an enabling environment for the sector’ operation and growth.

It also has oversight over mineral licenses and mining operations and collects and analyses geological data for better documentation and under-standing of the Kenya’s geological nature.

However, because land is the primary asset for mining, it works with the Ministry of Lands & Physical Planning, with the latter responsible for reserving public land for exploitation of natural resources therein.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining also works with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to address environmental concerns around the extractives industry.

Other key players include:

  1. Mineral Rights Board: advises the Cabinet Secretary on mineral rights agreements, strategic minerals, fees and royalties payable under the Act and other matters. Its membership is drawn from various government ministries, including the National Land Commission and industry professionals.
  2. National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA): This is the regulator of all environmental matters in Kenya including those affecting mining sector. A NEMA environmental license is a requirement for all mining companies.
  3. National Land Commission (NLC): It manages all public land on be-half of the national and county governments and makes recommendations on the national land policy.

Kenya has appreciable amounts of mineral resources, some of which are already being exploited by private companies, while others are yet to be prospected and mined.

Verified deposits of minerals in Kenya include soda ash, fluorspar, diatomite, carbon dioxide, gold, iron ore, lead, vermiculite, kyanite, manganese, titanium, silica sands, gypsum, limestone and salt. Others, albeit in smaller quantities, are gemstones and ornamental stones including ruby, tsavorite, sapphire, corundum various types of garnets, tourmaline, aquamarine, zoisite and rhodolite. De-posits of rare earths and petroleum have also recently been discovered. (Forestry, 2017).

However, the 2012 discovery of oil in Turkana County significantly raised the profile of Kenya’s oil and mineral resources sector and repositioned it as a key player in the Government’s efforts to eradicate poverty ((IHRB), 2016).

To support the mining industry, the Government has invested in infrastructure projects to gradually lower operations. Among the projects are paving of new roads, Mombasa Port Efficiency Project, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the National Optic Fiber Project and the LAPSSET (Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor) Project.

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized commodity that is of economic interest and value to the miner. Ores recovered by mining include metals, coal, oil shale, gemstones, limestone, chalk, dimension stone, rock salt, pot-ash, gravel and clay. Mining is required to obtain any material that cannot be grown through agricultural process-es, or feasibly created artificially in a laboratory or factory. Mining in a wider sense includes extraction of any non-renewable resource such as petroleum, natural gas, or even water. The mining sector currently con-tributes less than 1% of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but has potential capacity to contribute 4% to 10%. This means that much of Kenya’s natural resource wealth is yet to be exploited and there could be significant opportunity for growth. Kenya is still in early exploration stage of its mineral potential.

According to the Economic Survey 2021 prepared by the Kenya Nation-al Bureau of Statistics, the quantity and value of mineral production in the country recorded a decline in 2020. This followed reduced demand for minerals in the external market prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Total earnings from mineral production declined by 5.8 per cent from Ksh24.1 billion in 2019 to Ksh22.7 billion in 2020.

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