On January 3, the High Court denied Rockland Kenya Ltd’s motion to stop the implementation of a previous export licensing directive.
Rockland was referring to a September 7, 2017 directive issued by Requires miners to apply for export permits from the mining cabinet secretary instead of the mining director. The company claimed that the minister was frustrating its business operations and that the delay in processing the export permit was a violation of its rights under Article 40(2)(a) of the Constitution, which prohibits the passing of laws depriving a person of property or interest.
In his decision, High Court Judge Anthony Mrima said that although the company has a contentious case, it has not shown that it has submitted an export license application to the Cabinet Secretary under the contested directive and that the application had been denied.
“The petitioner instead took the position that he could not address the application to the Cabinet Secretary, but only to the Director of Mines, as he understood this to be the Mining Act to require” , the judge said.
But Rockwell’s motion was indicative of a more worrying development among residents of Kwale and Tai counties ta Taveta, which lies in the Mozambique belt and has some of the richest mineral deposits in East Africa.
Geological experts say the districts are the world’s major source of tsavorite (green garnet) and rubies. Both are in high demand internationally.
Taita Taveta County is home to over 40 high quality gemstones including sapphire, garnet, tourmaline, tanzanite and quartz.
But it’s only rich in names , as merchants suck the mining proceeds from the region.
To make ends meet, local miners sell quality gems at throwaway prices to merchants who control the market and stake them Prices.
“I’m struggling to get tourmaline and tanzanite deep in Tsavo National Park. But because of my needs I don’t have time to go to Nairobi to get an export license. So I sell to the brokers,” said John Maghanga, a miner in Kamtonga, Mwatate Subdistrict.
He added, “We sell tourmaline for about $200 a kilogram, but we know he’s over brings in $500. ”
Locals say the Kenyan government’s requirement for export licenses increases the cost of doing business and complicates the deal.
Locals sell the gemstones to foreign traders who come to Kenya Arusha in Tanzania, the gem capital of East Africa.
The towns of Kuranze, Mkuki, Kamtonga and Mwatate are the areas where unlicensed traders operate.
The heart of the underground trade Traders from Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tanzania posing as tourists visiting Tsavo National Parks.
In July 2021, a multi-agency team led by the Kenyan government raided the town of Voi, arresting and deporting 23 Sri Lankans.
Some of her accomplices fled to Nairobi, Mombasa and Taveta.
Alice Wawuda, a licensed artisanal miner, said the smugglers bought the gemstones from local people, and abroad they are being used Gems p oiled and sold in the international market with fake country of origin.
“Our local mining business is controlled by cartels that set prices. The artisanal miners are missing out on various opportunities due to the delay in issuing the trader’s license,” said Davis Tayo, an official with the Africa Social Financing Centre.
According to Mr Tayo, the government should issue licenses to local traders to lock out cartels operating in have invaded the county.
The center has partnered with the Taita Taveta Artisanal Miners Association to establish the Tsavorite Market and Auction Center to help local small-big ones and artisanal miners access the market directly.
“Many miners have no idea how to access international markets and do not know the value of their stones. That’s why they are being exploited,” he said.
The construction of the gemstone center in the town of Voi, which was completed in 2018, gave hope to local miners who bet on the center to sell their processed gemstones stones.
“Once the facility opens, all foreigners will be forced to do business in the center,” said Edward Omitto, the center’s manager, adding that the facility regulates the price and the Helping miners market their rocks.
Last August, the Kenya Revenue Agency (KRA) began implementing Regulation 18 of the Mining Act (Dealings in Minerals) Regulations 2017 after being accused of more than not raising $14,000 from 27 registered mining companies in FY 2018/2019.
The audit report showed that some local companies exported massive amounts of minerals without permits.
The report asked notes that the government pocketed just $72,000 and $744,200 in mineral export taxes and mining license fees, respectively, for the year under review – figures considered low as the minerals have been exported since 2016.
KRA Commissioner-General Githii Mburu has since admitted the government lost hundreds of millions of shillings in revenue after it was revealed that some local companies have been exporting huge quantities of minerals without permits.