Kitui’s coal to provide affordable and reliable source of energy

Kitui county government is working on a regulated and structured mining of coal to ensure the sector provides affordable, competitive, reliable and easily accessible source of energy once operationalised.

According to Diakonia 2014 Research Report on Coal Mining in Kitui County extensive coal exploration is being undertaken in the Mui Basin of Kitui County as well as other parts of the country whose resources are expected to provide about 1,900MW of electricity generation by 2016 and 4,500MW by 2030.

The report further states that the government should commit to facilitate the development of a National Resettlement Action Plan Framework for energy related projects; including livelihood restoration in the event of physical displacement of communities.

So far, the government has processed over 5, 000 land title deeds for Mui Basin Block C and D residents, which is under concession, for compensation to facilitate the mining company gain access to land where exploration blocks fall on private land, community land and cultural heritage areas including game parks or reserves.

The potential mineralogy of the County is listed as including possible deposits of coal, gypsum, magnesite, gold, asbestos, garnet, tourmaline, vanadium, silimanite, illmenite, iron ore, pyrite, silica, epidote, diatomite, wollastonite, copper and graphite.

The county has proven reserves of coal in Mui Basin which has been subdivided into four blocks namely, A, B, C and D. In 2010 four hundred million tons of coal reserves were confirmed in Block C.

If well-managed, these resources, while being within the province of the national government, could provide a firm foundation for the county to address its poverty challenges.

Further, the coal project will improve key infrastructure installations in the county, accelerate growth and development, transform its weak agricultural sector and increase budgetary allocations to key sectors such as health and education.

Likely impacts on the directly affected population include loss of housing and ancillary structures, loss of farmland and grazing land, loss of key infrastructure including schools, churches, cultural sites and commercial buildings, as well as potential loss of access issues.

The directly affected population is contained within the Mui Basin including Block A which covers the area between Zombe and Kabati spanning 121.5 sq. km, Block B covering the area between Itiko and Mutito spanning an area of 117 sq. km.

Block C covering the area between Yoonye and Kateiko spanning an area of 131.5 sq. km and Block D which includes the area between Isekele and Karunga which is approximately 120 sq. km.

Edgar Odari, a policy strategist who has written extensively on Kenya’s Emerging Extractive Sector, says the government envisions to put in place strategies and mechanisms to eliminate wood fuel, charcoal and kerosene as a household energy source by 2022.

To ensure the incorporation of citizen participation, Kenya’s Energy Policy calls for transparency, uninhibited access to justice and public participation in the development of policies, project plans and processes for the management of mineral resources.

Further, the policy also provides for consideration of inter-generational equity and sustainable utilisation of mineral resources.

Odari says that the policy seeks to integrate sound environmental protection in mineral resources development as well as promote the observation of the social and cultural values traditionally applied by any community in Kenya for the management of mineral resources in accordance with the law.

Governor Dr Julius Malombe reiterated the importance of promoting equitable access to mineral resources and benefit-sharing as well as value addition to raw minerals before export as a way of increasing returns for the people of Kenya.

Source: Kenya News Agency