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Mining of Rare Earths and Niobium in Mrima Hill, Kwale, Kenya


In February 2012 Cortec Mining Kenya Ltd submitted an EIA to NEMA for Niobium and rare earths mining in Mrima Hill which was rejected. Nature Kenya and Kenya Forest Working Group had objected to the EIA on grounds that Mrima Hill was declared a Nature Reserve and National Monument because of its natural and cultural riches ant therefore exploitation of its mineral riches should be strictly limited and closely monitored to preserve them. Nature Kenya also recommended for the proponent to submit information on sites for ore processing, waste storage, and water extraction before the EIA report was approved.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mining of Rare Earths and Niobium in Mrima Hill, Kwale, Kenya
State or province:Coast Region
Location of conflict:Kwale County
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Niobium
Rare metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

In April 2013, Cortec Mining Kenya Ltd (CMKL) was granted a 21 year Special Mining Licence for the Niobium and rare earths mining project in Mrima Hill. In August, The government of Kenya however through a press release revoked all mining licenses issued since January 2013 for a 60 day review period, on grounds that the licenses had been irregularly awarded. Mrima Hill’s rare earth deposit is targeted at approximately 40 million tonnes with a concentration of approximately 5% total rare earth oxides. Mrima Hill has been ranked among the top five regions in the world with rare earth deposits, with a potential in-ground value of up to KSh 5.4 trillion.

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Project area:142
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:400,000- 600,000
Company names or state enterprises:Pacific Wildcat Resource Corp. from Canada
Cortec Mining Kenya Ltd from Kenya
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Planning and Devolution; Ministry of Mining; National Environment Management Authority
International and Finance InstitutionsWorld Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Nature Kenya, Kenya Forest Working Group, East Africa Wildlife Society, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Objections to the EIA
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:EIA approved, despite objection by ejos.
Development of alternatives:• The sacred Kaya, the top of the Mrima hill and non-mineralised areas need to be strictly protected.
• Constant monitoring should be done once the project is implemented to ensure that the company abides by its mitigation and restoration measures ought to be mandatory, with stakeholder involvement.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Though the Mrima Hill mining license has been suspended, this is not on environmental grounds; hence the Important Bird Area is still under threat. In addition, the government has expressed its support for the project considering the projects potential to earn high income for the government.
NEMA also already approved the projects EIA.
This makes it difficult for ejos to succeed in their efforts to save the site.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Environmental Management and Coordination Act ; Mining Act; Wildlife Conservation

and Management Act CAP 376 and Forest Act .

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

The Standard
[click to view]

Pacific Wildcat
[click to view]

Mining Weekly
[click to view]

Business Daily Africa
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Serah Munguti
Last update08/04/2014
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