Kenya has resolved to expand the scope of a minerals survey to capture other facets of the country’s geophysics. This will ensure that key sectors of the economy benefit from the process.
The Kenya Nationwide Airborne Geophysical Survey project will now cover other natural resources like water body masses, forest cover, geothermal steam potential and areas with potential for tectonic movements.
According to Mining principal secretary John Omenge, the government intends to launch the survey in the next three months after securing $65 million funding from China’s Exim Bank.
Treasury has also allocated $3.5 million to pay the consultants who will supervise Chinese firm Geological Exploration Technology Institute that has been contracted to undertake the detailed airborne survey that will take 30 months to complete.
“We have enhanced the scope and framework of the survey to ensure we get conclusive data that will also benefit other sectors,” said Mr Omenge.
British and Canadian consultancy firms International GeoScience Services and Paterson, Grant and Watson won a consultancy contract to oversee the survey.
Mining sector stakeholders have repeatedly complained about the delays in embarking on the process, which they reckon is critical in attracting foreign investors and thus driving the sector’s growth.
Although the idea to undertake the geophysical survey was conceived in 2013, the process has been delayed due to controversies on financing and the best model to employ.
A decision by the National Treasury to recall $28.5 million that had been allocated to the Ministry of Mining for the survey last year left Kenya with no option but to invite the Chinese to fund and carry out the process.
“The survey is a critical component in ensuring that Kenya is able to fully exploit and benefit from its minerals wealth,” said chief executive of Kenya Chambers of Mines Moses Njeru.
Although Kenya is believed to be endowed with numerous minerals, the lack of a geological database has impended exploitation.
Currently, known minerals in the country include gold, zinc, copper, coal, dimension stone, gemstones, soda ash, fluorspar, diatomite, ruby, carbon dioxide, oil, titanium, mercury and gypsum.
According to the Department of Mining, the mining sector has the potential to contribute about 10 per cent to GDP annually but currently only contributes a paltry one per cent.
It is estimated that Kenya could earn in excess of $140 billion cumulatively from the sector based on proven and estimated oil and mineral resources.
Other East African nations are also mapping out their minerals. In Tanzania, the government contracted BGS International to support an airborne survey of under the $55 million Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project funded by a loan from the World Bank.
In Uganda the government set aside $44.7 million for the survey, geological mapping and resource assessment while in Rwanda the government contracted Paterson, Grant & Watson Ltd to undertake the process.