Coal mining gets nod from Kitui leaders
Posted Thursday, June 28 2012 at 16:45
A delegation from Mui coal basin in Kitui County that was sent to China by the ministry of Energy has given its backing to the planned extraction of coal in Blocks C and D in the region.
This signals a possibility that the much-awaited coal mining could begin soon.
In a report presented to Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi, the delegation expressed its support for coal mining in the area, while recommending regulatory reform to safeguard the interests of the local communities.
“The delegates viewed many places, held discussions with local leaders and observed Chinese mode of mining. Great insights were gained and many fears allayed, particularly on the part of the Chinese investor. The committee supports coal mining in Mui by Jingu Group,” read the report.
According to Mr John Omenge, chief geologist at the ministry of Energy, the government will channel the coal extracted from the basin into electricity generation.
Already, there is a proposal to set up a 600 megawatt power plant in Kilifi that will comprise both coal and gas power plants, subject to availability of the latter from ongoing exploration activities at the coast.
“We will go to Kilifi next week for further talks with the local community on the coal plant,” said Mr Omenge.
Jingu Group of China, through its subsidiary Fenxi Industry Mining Group, won the tender to extract coal in Blocks C and D that are estimated to contain in excess of 400 million tonnes.
The 15-member delegation comprised, among others, Mr Eric Mutua, chairman of the Law Society of Kenya, Mr Titus Kivaa, senior lecturer at JKUAT’s school of architecture and building sciences and three government officials.
Among recommendations made is formulation of a comprehensive coal mining policy in Kenya, development of the Mui Coal Basin into a special economic zone and establishment of a coal information centre in the coal basin.
The proposals come in at a time when the energy ministry is in the process of putting in place a national energy policy that is expected to give direction to the various energy projects in terms of revenue sharing between national and county governments, as well as affected communities.
The current mining Act dates back to the 1940s.