Concorde Resources Limited and SMS & Track (Africa) Limited are seeking to explore areas covering 521.7 square kilometres in Kamunai, West Pokot. The two firms have applied for permits to prospect for copper in West Pokot, signalling increased interest in the Kenya’s mineral wealth.
If commercially viable copper deposits are found, they would expand Kenya’s mineral list that currently features soda ash, fluorspar, gold and titanium. Kenya will be joining the list of main earners from copper producers in Africa. Zambia, which earns more than Sh300 billion from copper exports annually, is projected to produce some 753,992 tonnes of the commodity this year. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the top copper producer in Africa at one million tonnes annually.
The two African countries are said to have the fourth-largest global copper reserves combined. Kenya is yet to enjoy the mineral resource boom, with total production of the commodities, including titanium and soda ash, remaining flat last year.
Kenya produced Sh23.2 billion worth of minerals last year, according to the annual Economic Survey data.
“Notice is given by virtue of section 34 of the Mining Act that an application for a prospecting licence, whose details and area boundary schedule are as described below, has been made under section 72 of the Act and the said application has been accepted for consideration,” Mining secretary Dan Kazungu said in a notice in December 2017.
Copper is used in many applications, including construction, power transmission, electronic product manufacturing, heating and cooling systems.
It is also an essential component in motor vehicle parts and wiring, with its use rising higher in electric cars. Major importers of copper include China, Japan, Germany, India and South Korea.
Large exports of minerals, coupled with higher prices of the commodities, can significantly help countries fund their budgets.
Oil production in Turkana is likely to give the biggest lift to Kenya’s mineral resource earnings in the medium term, as the country seeks to boost production of other commodities.
Australia’s Base Resources plans to invest Sh2.4 billion next year in the second phase of its titanium mining operation in Kwale.
The government has earned a total of Sh1 billion in royalties from the multinational, which has been exporting titanium from Kwale since February 2014.
Production and earnings from gold has been weaker, with UK’s Goldplat Plc expecting to produce some 5,800 ounces of the commodity 2018.