The revival of fluorspar mining in Kerio Valley will be delayed following a dispute between the government and residents over compensation.
The more than 500 families displaced from 9,070 acres issued new demands to the government Tuesday after the National Land Commission set aside Sh1 billion as compensation.
The issue has split the families, with some insisting on being given alternative land while others want money.
Other residents have vowed to remain in their ancestral land, saying fluorspar mining has never affected them. Local leaders are lobbying for investors to resume mining.
“The government should consider resettling locals to save them from the high cost of buying land elsewhere,” Micah Kigen, a resident, said.
The Mining Ministry has asked residents to agree on how they should be compensated.
Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono on Tuesday criticised the disagreements among locals and called for collaboration with government agencies and officials to hasten compensation.
“Those creating a split are not genuine residents. They are not affected by fluorspar mining and are only out to get free money. Leaders are waiting for a response from the commission,” Mr Rono said.
Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos appealed for talks between residents, leaders and the government on how to end the stalemate.
“The negotiation should not be hurried and all parties must be involved,” Mr Tolgos said.
“We also want locals to buy shares in the new company.”
Kimwarer Sugutek (Fluorspar) Community chairman Joseph Kandie said counting of families to identify genuine beneficiaries and their preferred mode of compensation is ongoing.
“The names will be verified before the list is forwarded to relevant State departments,” Mr Kandie said.
Some of the families displaced more than half a century ago to pave the way for Kenya Fluorspar Company dismissed the Sh1 billion, terming it too little "if we are to go with the current market prices of land".
They are demanding Sh3 million per acre "for the 921 acres of mining field". According to the land commission, 4,300 genuine landowners in the Kerio Valley will get compensation.
“We are working on a resource document prepared by a task force comprising community representatives and government officials,” Mr Silas Kinoti, an NLC commissioner, said in an earlier interview.
Kenya Fluorspar Company suspended operations and dismissed employees three years ago, citing a slump in prices.
Fluorspar is exported in its raw form. It is usually transported by road to Flax township where it is loaded and taken to Mombasa by rail.
South Africa and Morocco are the only countries in Africa now mining fluorspar.
South Africa produces 300,000 tonnes annually, Morocco 100,000 tonnes while Kenya produced about 120,000 tonnes.