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Corruption unearthed as MPs lock out Chinese firm from mining survey

Budget and Appropriation Committee chair Mutava Musyimi. (Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard)

Parliament has ruled out giving a Chinese firm a contract to do digital mapping for Kenya’s minerals. Instead, MPs want a local geologist to do the work.

Last year, the Treasury cut the budget for the survey by Sh2.6 billion and opted to fund the geological survey outside the exchequer. The supplementary budget tabled in December 2016 slashed the allocation to Sh702 million. The amount will be used to equip the African Mineral Development Centre and generate exploration and geo-hazard reports.

However, a review of the supplementary budget presented by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, MPs have reinstated Sh2.7 billion budget to do the digital survey. “The nationwide Geophysical survey should be reinstated. Further, the project should be done by Kenyan geologists,” the Mutava Musyimi-led committee on Budget and Appropriation said.

Apparently, the Government had awarded China’s Geological Exploration Technology Institute (GETI) the contract. MPs said no due diligence had been done on the firm and asked the Government to revoke the award.

“The committee objects to the award of the project contract to the Chinese firm GETI due to the fact that no due diligence had been carried out on the firm,” the budget team said.

This is the second botched attempt to have the Chinese company develop the digital map after discussions fell out with GETI which wanted to undertake the exercise with a grant from the Chinese Government. The three-year talks fell through after Export-Import Bank of China which was to fund part of the project failed to give a commitment forcing Kenya to slot the survey in the Mining Ministry’s budget.

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GETI was to undertake an aerial survey for 24 to 36 months at a cost of about Sh7 billion. The aerial survey was supposed to compile a new geological map detailing the occurrence of minerals around the country, what would help spur investment in the mining sector. Part of the components of the airborne survey include; five magnetic maps, five radiometric maps and five electromagnetic maps. The Ministry was also to produce seven flight path maps and progress reports on the airborne survey which are now struck out of the current financial year’s budget.

Geological Survey

The delays come even as more firms continue to announce new mineral finds including last month when a UK firm Acacia Mining discovered an estimated resource of 1.31 million ounces of gold at its mines in the Liranda Corridor in Kakamega which could be valued at Sh171 billion ($1.65 billion). Another UK gold processor Goldplat commissioned a new plant in the Kilimapesa mines in Narok County that could raise its annual production to nearly 200 kilos. In January, Tullow Oil also announced new crude find in Turkana in northern Kenya although estimated quantities are not clear yet.

Mining CS Dan Kazungu has, however, been exploring colonial maps to locate mineral sites. Last year, he said the Government was in talks with the British Geological Survey to repatriate colonial maps that will help build up Kenyan data.

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