Monica Gichohi, CEO, Kenya Chamber of Mines. Promoting Kenya’s Mining Sector
In this exclusive, Monica gives us an overview of the Chamber, challenges being faced by the organization and lobbying with government agencies for the mining bill and mineral policy.
Though Kenya is not generally known as a mining investment destination, recent developments have proven that the country actually holds a significant potential for mineral development, which is largely unexplored. Kenya currently produces soda ash, fluorspar, cement, coloured gemstones and gold among other minerals, the two later mainly from artisan mining activity.
A heavy mineral sands (titanium) operation is being developed in the Coast Province, and there has been a recent increase over the last years of the activity of gold exploration companies. The Kenya Government, in hand with KCM, is currently putting in place a Mining Policy and revising its out-dated Mining Act in order to encourage development of the mineral industry in the country.
The Kenya Chamber of Mines endeavours to be the leading Mineral Industry representative and lobbying body in the country, the preferred interlocutor for the Government, Communities, and other stakeholders with respect to Mineral related issues, and a driving force towards the development of this Industry.
Through the achievement of its objectives, the Kenya Chamber of Mines will contribute to the creation, maintenance and improvement a conducive business environment for the successful development and benefit of its member’s businesses, and of the Mineral Industry in Kenya as a whole.
Aspire Africa: Give us a brief history of KCM and its establishment?
Monica Gichohi: The Kenya Chamber of Mines was established in 2000 with the goal of representing the interests of Kenya’s mining companies, exploration companies, mineral traders, equipment suppliers and professionals in the sector. KCM endeavours to lead the industry as a representative, lobbyist and preferred interlocutor for the government, communities, and other stakeholders. KCM’s focuses on resolving the country’s mineral sector issues and growing it sustainably.
AA: Highlight KCM’s track record and how the combined experience of the team contributes to its success?
MC: Since its establishment, KCM has consistently represented the industry’s interests, gaining recognition as the central representative body of the sector in the country. Currently, the organization represents over 100 companies with vested interests in the Kenyan mining scene.
KCM is led by an executive council made up of the leaders of selected member companies including African Barrick Gold, Kenya Flourspar Company, Tata Magadi, Base Titanium, StoutMin and Kilimapesa Gold. The executive council members are accomplished and experienced miners who include a former Commissioner of Mines and the former chairman of the Chamber.
AA: What are the key services provided by KCM and priority activities involved with at the moment?
MC: KCM focuses on growing the mining industry in Kenya through creation of a conducive business environment for mining. The organization has been heavily involved in lobbying with government agencies for the mining bill and mineral policy.
Community outreach is also a key activity that the chamber has been involved in with the goal of disseminating information to the small-scale miners whose livelihoods are dependent on mining.
KCM also holds numerous corporate events aimed at strategizing on the industry’s growth and attracting investors into the local mining industry.
KCM partners widely with like-minded organizations to structure Kenya’s business environment into an investor destination, with an emphasis on mining.
AA: What are KCM’s major milestones achieved to date?
MC: KCM advocated for the outdated mining laws in Kenya to be updated since the regulatory framework currently in operation has been in place since 1940 and no longer governs the sector efficiently. The law in place limits the profitable exploration and extraction of minerals in the country and has not been effective in encouraging the exploitation of these resources.
KCM recognized Kenya’s mining potential and set out to ensure its realization, successfully convincing the relevant government agencies to review the regulations. The Mining Bill is currently undergoing debate in parliament.
During the development of the Mining Bill 2014, KCM has been at the center of the consultation and drafting of the clauses, with the members taking part by submitting reports to the committee tasked with the development of the bill. KCM also managed to educate and constantly update the members and the public on the proceedings and on the specific clauses in the bill that will affect their operations.
AA: Tell us about the challenges being faced by the organization?
MC: Being a non-profit organization, Kenya Chamber of Mines faces financial challenges in implementing its strategies for growing the mining sector in Kenya. Activities such as community outreach programs require the organization to spend on logistics and facilitation costs and so the chamber has to limit the number of sessions held.
As Kenya’s mining sector is still young, there is limited data on mining. Information such as the types of minerals present in the country and their locations is unavailable. The chamber is therefore unable to accurately advice members, the public and investors on the minerals.
KCM also faces difficulties in attracting investors into the country due to an underdeveloped sector. Several African countries have been involved in large-scale mining for decades, making them more attractive mining investment destinations. Further, the country faces insecurity and political instability that increases investor risks.
AA: Discuss the potential of the Kenyan mining sector?
MC: Kenya’s mining sector received a major boost in the last decade, with mining companies announcing discoveries of minerals in several parts of the country. Minerals such as gold and titanium have since been certified as commercially viable and extraction started.
In February 2014, Base Titanium, Kenya’s biggest mining operation started exporting Ilmenite and Rutile to Asia and is expected to ship about 330,000 tonnes of Ilmenite and 80,000 tonnes of Rutile annually. This makes up 10% and 14% of the global supply of the two minerals respectively. Other notable operations in the country so far include African Barrick Gold, Karebe Gold, Kilimapesa Gold, East African Copper.
The Kenyan government has also started making efforts to boost the mining sector by improving the sector’s regulatory framework through the Mining Bill that is currently in parliament.
Additionally, universities in the country have started offering mining courses with Taita Taveta University College, a member of the chamber, opting to specialize on mining courses.
AA: How is KCM supporting/helping to facilitate the mining sector in the country in line with the ‘Kenya Vision2030’ initiative?
MC: Kenya’s Vision 2030 is geared towards the country’s continuous development into economic success. KCM has been instrumental in promoting miner’s in Kenya and enabling their operations to be successful and profitable. These mining operations provide employment for Kenyan locals, advance the country’s infrastructure and greatly improve the skills of the workers. Additionally, the chamber represents small-scale miners whose mining activities provide their main source of income.
KCM solely advocated for mining activities to be included in the Vision 2030 initiative, raising the awareness of mining as a potential high GDP contributor.
AA: Highlight the various key projects or events KCM is involved with and implemented in the country?
MC: KCM is a co-organizer of the Mining Business and Investment Conference (MBI 2014), which is the region’s premier forum on the mining sector. The MBI is an Eastern African event intended to grow the mining sector by addressing the major challenges in the industry, discussing the investment opportunities available and raising the region’s profile as a mining destination.
The chamber has also endeavored to provide the region with relevant, up to date and objective information through the EA Mining Review, a project that is underway.
KCM regularly holds community outreach missions to reach the small scale miners to provide information and empower them to exploit the minerals within their reach profitably.
AA: How does KCM plan to keep expanding and future outlook?
MC: KCM intends to continue growing its membership towards representing the entire mining fraternity in Kenya.
The Kenyan extractives sector promises to be the next economic frontier and holds great potential for business. With this in mind, the Kenya Chamber of Mines continuously strives to ensure a suitable business environment for all the stakeholders in the country.
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