The late Jacob Juma. IMAGE/ COURTESY

The mining brawl in Kenya is taking a new twist after the Ministry of Mining and Petroleum put an advertisement on the Standard Newspaper, announcing reception of mining rights application from a company by the name Greatwall International (K) Company Limited.

The company has applied for mining rights in Siaya, Kisumu and Kilifi counties, where Jacob Juma’s company Cortec had mining rights over.

It will have mining rights over gold, lead, precious metals, silver, base and rare metals, industrial minerals, limestone, mercury and zinc. The government says that the “application has been made and accepted for consideration”.

“The said application has been published in the Kenya Gazette and opened to public comments for 21 days from the date of publication,” reads the ad.

The announcement was made through Gazette Notice number 11566 and 11567 on November 9.

This comes days after Jacob Juma’s company, Cortec Mining, lost a Ksh200 billion suit against the Kenyan government at the International Centre of Investment Disputes following the cancellation of the mining licence by then Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, who argued it was issued fraudulently.

The special licence had been awarded in 2008 for 21 years. The Mrima Hill deposits in Kwale County were valued at close to Ksh100 trillion.

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The hill has the world’s largest undeveloped niobium and rare earth deposits. Niobium is used in the manufacture of specialised steel products.

However, as fate would be, Jacob Juma was murdered on the same day that he filed submissions in the case.

Juma said that Balala had asked him for a bribe so as not to cancel the licences to Cortec Mining.

Cortec’s licence was withdrawn together with other 41 mining companies, but it was the only operational company whose licence was withdrawn, according to Juma.

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It accused the Chinese of wanting to control the niobium market by controlling its supply in the market. Interestingly, the company made the comments as the Cabinet Secretary met a mining delegation from China under the umbrella of Blue Ocean Investment Fund.

China supplies an estimated 97 per cent of global rare earth. Japan is the main consumer and has been hurting from a shortage which has pushed up prices.

Kenya could have been the alternative largest supplier through Cortec, something that could have raised fear for competition for China.

Kenya has been one of the biggest borrower of Chinese loans and grants, and it coul have been a move to protect the Chinese interests, and hand over the mines to the Chinese government or company.

Today’s ad is strategically placed on page 47, where it would not easily catch the public eye.

The name of the company, Greatwall International (K) Company Limited, could be easily mistaken for Chinese company, Great Wall International ACG Co. Ltd.

The latter, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the animation, tourism, and toy sales businesses in China. It offers animation games, and originals and derivatives. The company was formerly known as Sichuan Great Wall International ACG Co., Ltd. and changed its name to Great Wall International ACG Co., Ltd. in August 2015. Great Wall International ACG Co., Ltd. was founded in 1994 and is based in Chengdu, China.

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