Kenya to Exploit Mineral Wealth: A Treasure Trove of Resources Is Being Discovered in Kenya as Deposits of Niobium, Rare Earth Metals, Titanium Sands, Ilmenite, Zircon, Coal, Oil, Gas and Rutile Are Being Discovered and Exploited. as the Government Puts in Place Measures to Ensure the Whole Nation Benefits from the Extractive Industries Sector, Kenya's Economy, Primarily Agriculturally Based, Will See Significant Growth

By Kabukuru, Wanjohi | New African, August-September 2013 | Go to article overview

Kenya to Exploit Mineral Wealth: A Treasure Trove of Resources Is Being Discovered in Kenya as Deposits of Niobium, Rare Earth Metals, Titanium Sands, Ilmenite, Zircon, Coal, Oil, Gas and Rutile Are Being Discovered and Exploited. as the Government Puts in Place Measures to Ensure the Whole Nation Benefits from the Extractive Industries Sector, Kenya's Economy, Primarily Agriculturally Based, Will See Significant Growth


Kabukuru, Wanjohi, New African


IT WAS BILLED AS A COURTESY CALL TO meet the president. On 23 May 2013, the directors of Cortec Mining Kenya (CMK) Ltd, who run the Mrima Hill Niobium and Rare Earth Project, in Kenya's south coast, met President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Mombasa.

"We will support the development of the Mrima Hill Niobium and Rare Earth Project and the efforts of Cortec Mining Kenya but are keen to ensure that exploitation of the minerals benefits the country," Uhuru said after the meeting. "Commercial development of this project will have a significant positive effect on all the stakeholders including the local community, the Kwale county and the country as a whole." In the meeting between CMK and Uhuru was Darren Townsend, president and chief executive of Pacific Wildcat Resources Corp. "We were delighted to have the opportunity to meet with President Kenyatta to discuss the Mrima Hill project; in particular its size, scope and benefits as a whole," Townsend said, and then made a significant disclosure. "Mrima Hill is a world class asset and with the mining licence recently granted our project is making excellent progress."

The presence of Townsend and his sentiments revealed two crucial pieces of information. To begin with, Kenya has massive deposits of rare earth metals that are crucial for global commerce. Secondly his presence revealed the real owners of CMK. Pacific Wildcat Resources Corp., which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), owns 100% of two UK holding companies, namely Stirling Capital Ltd and Cortec Pty Ltd, which between them own a 70% interest in CMK.

Three days before this meeting, assaying works had commenced on the 3,482m of reverse circulation drilling undertaken last year. The assaying was undertaken in two stages.

It is now emerging that all this was setting the stage for big news from Kenya. On 16 July CMK were issued an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study approval for the mining and processing of niobium and associate rare earth metals from Mrima Hill by Kenya's National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). Four months earlier, on 25 March 2013, CMK had been issued with a 21-year special mining licence by the Kenya government's Mines and Geology Department.

Exactly two days after the go-ahead by NEMA, Cortec announced that Mrima Hill has the largest mineral deposits in Kenya and is among the top five largest rare earth hotspots in the world. The rare earth metals at Mrima are estimated to be worth $62.5bn and niobium deposits stand at $35bn.

This revelation was made by David Anderson, the MD of CMK. "This is by far the largest mineral deposit in Kenya and the find at Mrima Hill will place Kenya as having the potential to be one of the largest rare earth producers in the world," Anderson said as he unveiled the assay results of Mrima Hill. "Upon commencement of mining at Mrima, significant funds from the government royalty will be allocated to the Kwale county for use in various community infrastructure projects."

According to the benefit sharing agreement aspect defined by the Special Mining Licence, the Kenya government will collect 5% as royalties from rare earth mining and 3% royalties from niobium. "Gross Sales Value Royalty (Free on Board) of 3% for Niobium and 5% for Rare Earth Elements payable to the Government of the Republic of Kenya"--the licence reads in part.

Niobium is a key ingredient in alloys manufacture. It is used with iron and other elements to produce stainless steel. Other uses of niobium alloys include jewellery, jet engines and pipeline construction, among others. Apart from Mrima, CMK has two other sites in Kenya. Whilst at Mrima Hill Cortec holds a special mining licence, it holds exploration licences for Archers Post and Mathews Range in eastern Kenya.

CMK's latest findings have added to East Africa's stature as an emerging extractive industry hotspot. In early June this year, Tim Carstens, chief executive of Base Titanium, revealed that his company, which is operating the Kwale Mineral Sands Project in Kenya's south coast, will start full processing in October. …

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Kenya to Exploit Mineral Wealth: A Treasure Trove of Resources Is Being Discovered in Kenya as Deposits of Niobium, Rare Earth Metals, Titanium Sands, Ilmenite, Zircon, Coal, Oil, Gas and Rutile Are Being Discovered and Exploited. as the Government Puts in Place Measures to Ensure the Whole Nation Benefits from the Extractive Industries Sector, Kenya's Economy, Primarily Agriculturally Based, Will See Significant Growth
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