Kenya and coal
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At least 16 international coal mining companies have expressed interest in extracting coal in the Mui Basin, Kitui county in Kenya, according to a November 2010 report. The Mui basin has been sub-divided into Sombe, Kabati, Itiko, Mutito, Yoonye, Kateiko, Isekele and Karunga but activities are only concentrated in Kateiko and Yoonye. The deposits are an extension of the African Karoo formation, which runs from South Africa to Somalia through Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya. Government geologists have drilled 62 exploration wells at different selected sites but mainly in Block C since 2002 to ascertain, among other things, the coal quality and recommend its best method of extraction.
The government is offering up for concession 490.5 square kilometers. Investors wishing to extract the coal reserves are supposed to prove their ability to raise investment funds in excess of $100 million (Sh$8 billion). According to the conditions spelt out by the government, they must also demonstrate evidence of technical capability and a history of coal mining in at least three developing countries. The Ministry of Energy closed bid invitations in mid-November 2010. Bidders included Vale of Brazil, BHP Billiton of South Africa, Coal India, Continental Coal of Australia, TATA Power of India and China Nomation Machine & Export Corporation. Kenyan companies -- Rift Valley Resources, Africa Power and Logic Lamu Infrastructure Company -- also submitted their bids. The state-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), which expressed interest in bidding, was locked out for allegedly flouting procurement procedures by bidding too late.
The coal deposits in Kitui are being billed as a source of cheaper energy to drive Vision 2030, the economic blueprint that aims to make Kenya an industrialised country in 20 years. Currently, 67 per cent of Kenya’s power is generated from hydro sources, 10 per cent from geothermal and 23 per cent from thermal sources, which is price-sensitive to fluctuating international fuel prices. Mr Joseph Ndolo, a geologist, said the anticipated mining of coal would free some of the country’s foreign exchange reserves for other purposes. Ndolo said that with an indigenous source of energy, the country would have attained full industrial development by 2020. In South Africa, about 90 per cent of the electricity is coal-fired and four times cheaper than in Kenya.
Citizens Groups Campaigning on Climate Change
Articles and Resources
- "16 firms express interest in coal mining in Kitui" Saturday Nation, Nov. 27, 2010.
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