The Kenyan government has announced that significant deposits of coltan, a precious mineral used in the manufacture of phones, has been found in the country.
Mining and Blue Economy Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya on Wednesday said adequate deposits of coltan had been found in six counties.
The rare metallic mineral, mostly found in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is mainly used for the production of electronic goods of mass consumption, such as mobile phones, laptops and videogame consoles, and its discovery in Kenya is set to raise the country’s profile as a mineral exporter.
Embu, located on the eastern side of Mt Kenya, is among the counties that have been established to have the precious metal. Others are Samburu, Turkana, West Pokot, Kitui and Tana River.
Making the announcement at Embu County headquarters, Mr Mvurya said the government was assessing the economic viability of the deposits.
“It is now official. We have coltan deposits in the country and we want to see how we can inspire investors,” he said.
The CS said the government was determined to make the mining industry more vibrant.
He said more workers would be employed to assist in the exploration of the minerals, which are spread across counties.
The minister revealed that, so far, 970 mineral occurrences had been noted across the country, adding that mining would kick off soon.
Mr Mvurya said laboratories would be decentralised to counties to fast-track testing of minerals.
“We shall be setting up laboratories in eight regions for testing samples and declaring the quality of minerals found in a particular area,” he said.
The CS, who was flanked by Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire, vowed to weed out illegal miners who have invaded the sector.
“Some people have been mining precious minerals without licences, we shall weed out all those investors who don’t follow the law. We want mining to be a business where investors comply with the law,” he said.
He said a special unit had been set up by the Cabinet to enforce compliance.
The Embu governor said she was happy 20 percent of the mineral proceeds would go to the county and 10 per cent to residents.