Home » Kenya Strikes Gold with Coltan: A Rare Mineral for the Future

Kenya Strikes Gold with Coltan: A Rare Mineral for the Future

How the rare mineral could transform the country’s economy and mining industry

by Motoni Olodun

Kenya has announced the discovery of its first deposits of coltan, a rare mineral that is essential for making electric car batteries, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. The findings could boost the country’s mining sector and create more jobs for its citizens.

Coltan, also known as columbite-tantalum, is a metallic ore that is refined into tantalum, a heat-resistant powder that is used to produce capacitors, which are then used to manufacture electronic devices. The global demand for coltan is growing fast, as more people switch to electric vehicles and smart devices.

According to Mining Minister Salim Mvurya, Kenya has coltan reserves in six counties across the country, but their value is yet to be determined. He said the government would conduct further assessments to establish the economic potential of the mineral.

“We will leave our teams behind to do ground truthing so that we can now begin to assess the economic value of that particular mineral,” Mr Mvurya said.

He added that the discovery was expected to create more jobs and expand Kenya’s mining industry, which currently accounts for less than 1% of the country’s GDP but has the potential to contribute up to 10%, according to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).

Residents of Embu County in eastern Kenya, one of the six counties with coltan deposits, have been advised to hold onto their land, as the mineral could bring them significant benefits.

“A precious mineral has been found here and if you want to benefit you should not sell your land,” Nebart Muriuki, an MP from the county, was quoted as saying by the privately owned East African newspaper.

Kenya is not the only African country with coltan reserves. The Democratic Republic of Congo holds more than 70% of the world’s coltan reserves, which have for decades fuelled violent conflict in the east of the country, as rival militias fight for control of mines that produce coltan and other valuable minerals.

DR Congo, along with neighboring Rwanda, are two of the world’s top coltan suppliers. However, their mining sectors have been plagued by human rights abuses, environmental degradation, and corruption.

Kenya hopes to avoid these pitfalls by ensuring that its coltan mining is done sustainably and transparently, with respect for the rights of the local communities and the environment.

The government has also pledged to support the development of the local value chain, by encouraging the processing and manufacturing of coltan products within the country, rather than exporting the raw ore.

This could help Kenya diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on traditional exports such as tea, coffee, and flowers.

Coltan is not the only mineral that Kenya has discovered in recent years. The country also has deposits of oil, gas, coal, gold, copper, and titanium, among others.

These discoveries have raised hopes that Kenya could become a major player in the global mining industry and transform its fortunes.

However, experts have warned that the country needs to invest in infrastructure, technology, skills, and governance to ensure that its mineral wealth is well-managed and benefits all its people.

Source: BBC


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