Titanium Mining in the Kwale District, Kenya

After years of local struggle against a mining project for ilmenite for titanium, exports to China have started in 2014.


After years of negotiations, the Government of Kenya approved the project presented by the Canadian company Tiomin Resources Inc. for the exploitation of titanium deposits located in the Kwale region. A coalition formed of local communities and human rights organizations called Coast Mining Rights Forum opposed the mega-project, as it called for the displacement of 5,000 indigenous Digo and Kamba people and would contaminate local soil and aquifers with heavy metals. In 2008-09, the Tiomin company tried to sell the rights to Jinchuan, a Chinese company. The project, started in 2013, led to forced displacements.

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Basic Data
NameTitanium Mining in the Kwale District, Kenya
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Specific CommoditiesTitanium ores
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsYearly extraction of 330 000 tons of ilmenite, plus rutile and zircon. This project for mining mineral sands is geared to production of titanium.

The Kwale project is estimated to be worth approximately US$ 47 million per year.

Ilmenite would be mined to a depth of 30 meters.

The deposit contained 309 ppm of uranium and 143 ppm of thorium, potentially dangerous for health.

Tiomin Resources Inc., the Canadian firm that owns Tiomin Kenya Limited, offered compensation of US$120 and US$30 per hectare transferred and rented, respectively. Since 2009, Tiomin Kenya Limited was owned up to 70% by the Chinese mining conglomerate Jinchuan.

It is finally Base Resources Limited (Australia) which in 2013 kicked off the project.

Investment of perhaps 35 billion KES (Kenyan shillings), equal US350 million.

Project Area (in hectares)6400
Level of Investment (in USD)350,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesTiomin Resources Inc from Canada
Jinchuan Group Co. Ltd from China
Base Resources Limited from Australia
Relevant government actorsKenyan Government, NEMA - Kenya
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCRF - Kenya, Kwale Farmers Movement - Kenya, ActionAid Kenya
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesThe residents want to retrieve of their lands or a higher compensation, and the NGOs dont want the project because it would pollute the area and it is potentially dangerous for peoples health.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Government of Kenya allowed the company Tiomin to grab the lands of native people and the project was planned to start without an EIA undertaken by Kenyan specialists. In 2014, exports to China of ilmenite sands for titanium started.
Sources and Materials

Mining Act

Land Acquisition Act.


Base Resources project in Kwale
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L'Africa del tesoro. Masto, Raffaele. Ed. Sperling and Kupfer. 2006.
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What in a Coconut? An Ethnoecological Analysis of Mining, Social Displacement, Vulnerability, and Development in Rural Kenya, Africa, W. O. Abuya, African Studies Quaterly, November 2013
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Newspaper reports February 2014, first exports of ilmenite sands from Kwale for titanium, to China.
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Court restrains agency from licensing Tiomin, MAC, 03/03/2003
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Kwale mineral sands project suffering delays in troubled Kenya, budget cut, Mining weekly, January 2008
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Tiomin confident of $200m titanium deal in Kenya, Daily Nation, November 2008
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County mining tax plans anger Kenya government, Business Daily, 15/10/2014
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Kenya: Canadian titanium mining challenged by new government, World Rainforest Movement, April 2003
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Other Documents

The Base Resources titanium mining site in Kwale businessdailyafrica Photo/FILE
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Meta Information
ContributorLucie Greyl
Last update30/12/2015