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27 Feb 2020

Philip Mwakio, Standard Digital (Kenya)

Kenya: Impasse with locals over compensation for new mining sites threatens Base Titanium's expansion plans

"Kwale Sh35 billion titanium investment in danger"

The future of Sh35 billion mining investment by Australian firm, Base Titanium, in Kwale hangs in the balance following an impasse over new mining sites. According to Base Titanium’s External Affairs General Manager, Simon Wall, the firm will exhaust the minerals in the current location by mid-2023. The opposition by locals and political leaders to allow it to carry out exploration at the new sites in the five villages in Kwale threatens the future of the firm in the county. “As mining ceases, so will all the benefits emanating from the Kwale Mine which we estimate to be at close to Sh.3 billion per year," said Mr. Walla yesterday...

Political leaders and local community leaders have been apprehensive of the overtures claiming that Base has been out to exploit the resources. The main bone of contention has been the issue of land and benefits emanating from sale of the minerals through royalties. s section of community leaders express fears claiming that allowing exploration work was tantamount to giving away their ancestral land. “We will not let them take even an inch of our land. The people of Magaoni are not interested in exploration," said Mr Charles Bilali a lands rights crusader and resident of Kinondo said. He added: "They (Base Titanium) are working together with the government and some elected leaders to coerce us to accept exploration and deny us our right to our land,”...

Base Titanium on its part said it has never coerced any village to accept exploration. “We have conducted drilling on more than 120 villages in Kwale and at no time have we coerced or forced anyone to release their land,'' said Mr Pius Kassim Base Titanium Community Relations Manager.