China is making a fresh push to invest in Kenya’s petroleum and mining industry following a meeting between Chinese Ambassador Mrs. Sun Baohong and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, John Munyes.
Mrs. Baohong paid a courtesy call to Munyes this past week as the two exchanged in-depth views on China-Kenya relations and areas of cooperation between the two countries.
China has had a keen interest in Kenya’s mining industry for a number of years. Though UK-based exploration firm, Tullow Oil has had a major stake in Kenya’s budding crude oil industry, China has set its sights on the country’s mineral sector.
In 2017, Chinese mining firm, Chuanshan, announced plans to invest $40 million in exploration and mining of diatomite in Kenya’s Baringo County, which is rich in non-metallic mineral resources, gemstones, rubies and gold, as well as minerals used in construction.
Diatomite is used for manufacturing paints, toothpaste, plastics and absorbents.
At the time, Kenya’s Mining Cabinet Secretary, Dan Kazungu said Chuashan was awarded mining rights in May 2015 before the government suspended issuing of licences pending enactment of the country’s Mining Act of 2016.
“The Chinese firm is mobilising to start exploration and mining activities. The Investment will create jobs, with the government earning 5 per cent royalty of the diatomite produced,” Kazungu said.
Chuanshan currently has rights to 150 square kilometres of land for exploration and mining of diatomite.
Within the next two years, the China-based firm is expected to start production of 300,000 tonnes of diatomite annually.
With China’s help, Kenya will supply these resources to the local and international market.
“Benefits associated with the project include Chuanshan making return on investment with the exchequer earning revenue in form of rents and taxes, provision of raw materials for local use and export,” said Mr Kazungu.
Ambassador Baohong’s July 2018 visit comes at a time when Kenya’s Mining industry is working tirelessly to revive the once dormant sector. Ahead of his visit with Mrs. Baohon, Munyes said Kenya’s government is working to decongest its Port of Mombasa, a coastal hub through which trade with other nations is made possible.
Also, earlier this month, Kenya’s State Department for Mining, together with the Ministry of Petroleum & Mining opened a training program for artisanal and small-scale miners in the country’s Migori area.
Munyes believes that Kenya’s partnership with China will help speed up the growth of the sector. The Minister believes that the industry holds a lot of potential and has called for further investment in the industry.