The Mining Ministry has declined to renew a licence for a company that has been extracting iron ore in the county.
Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said they would not renew the permit for Wanjala Mining Company in Kishushe after the management failed to follow the law.
He said the licence was suspended in August last year after it was discovered that it was irregularly issued, before the landowners gave them the go-ahead.
Mr Balala said the government had given the firm a grace period to resolve their dispute with the landowners before they could be considered for fresh licensing.
They, however, withdrew from the controversial Kishushe and Oza ranches, he added.
“I have flown over the area and seen equipment rotting while more than 200,000 tonnes of iron ore is still piled there and not benefiting anyone. At the same time, the community is languishing in poverty,” said Mr Balala.
The minister said they had suspended some licences to ensure sanity in the industry and to avoid the impoverishment of people living in the mining areas by giving illegal players room to exploit them.
The Cabinet Secretary said the mining company and the community were locked in a dispute over boundaries. He said he had asked the National Land Commission to resolve the row.
“What I am allowing is the removal of the pile of extracted iron ore and equipment from the ranch land but no more mining in that area until the two parties reach an agreement,” he said.
He, however, said that Samruddha Resource Kenya was licensed by the ministry to prospect and mine within Kishushe Ranch.
This was after the company followed all the laid-down regulations. Mr Balala warned that anyone who interferes with the firm’s operations risks arrest.
At the same time, the management of Kishushe Ranch has warned the minister against issuing orders that were against the law by allowing illegally extracted minerals to be sold.
Speaking to the Nation on Sunday, a Kishushe Ranch board member, Mr Mwandawiro Mbela, said they would not allow anyone to remove the material extracted from their farm.
“It is clear that Wanjala Mining has withdrawn from our farm, where they have been operating illegally. We cannot allow illegally acquired minerals to be taken away for sale anywhere,” he said.
He said the management of the mining company and the governor are aware of the ranch’s stand following a meeting held in Voi last week.
Mr Mbela said the management boards of the ranch and Wanjala Mining attended the meeting called by the governor to resolve the dispute.
He criticised the minister, saying he was supporting “an illegality in the name of fighting for the rights of the community”.