Unemployment Looms for 800 Staff as Australian Company Shuts Kenyan Operations

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An Australian mining firm, which has been operating in Kwale since 2013, has affirmed plans to shut down its large-scale mining operations by December 2024. This decision could result in over 800 job losses. 

The company faces resource exhaustion in the area and as such, the government established the Post Mining Land Use (PMLU) committee to oversee the closure of the mine. 

The Kwale mine, which began operations in 2013 after taking over from Canada’s Tiomin Resources, has been a significant contributor to Kenya’s mineral exports. However, with the depletion of titanium resources, the mining venture is set to come to an end later this year.

According to the General Manager, the closure is part of a progressive rehabilitation and mine closure plan. “Our mining operations will officially end in December this year when our ore reserves are fully exhausted,” he stated.

Mining CS Salim Mvurya at the office of Embu Governor on January 24, 2024.

Photo

Cecily Mbarire

The Kwale Mine Operation, known for its high-grade ore body rich in rutile, ilmenite, and zircon, has been a vital source of employment for the local community. With 98 per cent of its employees being Kenyan, the closure will have significant economic ramifications, particularly for residents of Kwale and Mombasa counties.

The company’s exit will not only impact employment but also have financial implications for the government as they paid approximately Ksh11.3 billion in taxes and royalties in the year ended June 2022. Additionally, suppliers who earned revenues from dealings with the mining firm will also suffer losses.

Despite efforts to explore alternative mineral deposits, the parent company concluded that there are not enough titanium resources to sustain operations beyond 2024. The company will shift its focus to Madagascar while maintaining exploration activities in Kenya and Tanzania.

At a ceremony held at the Kenya School of Government Matuga campus in Kwale County, the General Manager asserted the importance of environmental rehabilitation and restoration. He pointed to the company’s commitment to reforestation, biodiversity conservation, and developing agricultural opportunities for host communities.

During the same event, the government unveiled a Post Mining Land Use (PMLU) committee chaired by State Department of Mining Principal Secretary Elijah Mwangi which marks an important step towards ensuring responsible mine closure.

The General Manager assured stakeholders that the company would develop closure plans in consultation with the PMLU committee, aiming for progressive rehabilitation for shared economic, environmental, and social benefits. 

A wide-angled view of opeartions at Kwale mine.

Photo

Titanium



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