There is a video on the website of Base Resources. A digitised satellite image of the planet locks onto Kenya and zooms swiftly into Kwale County – a small coastal area in the country’s south-east.
Kwale is one of the world’s top producers of ilmenite and rutile – key ingredients in the production of titanium dioxide. They are multi-functional minerals used to make paints, fabrics, plastics, paper, cosmetics and food.
The video zooms further in and the scale of the mine becomes apparent. Kwale Mineral Sands mine is enormous. It accounts for about 65% of the Kenya’s mining industry by mineral output value.
The video switches to drone footage looming over Base Titanium, the Kenyan subsidiary of the Australian-owned Base Resources. As the drone flies ever higher, the giant sandpit–like mine stretches for as far as the eye can see, with lush forests hugging its fringes.
What does this mean for the people of Kwale County?
This is the question at the forefront of Transparency International Kenya’s work with the local community.
The Community Development Agreements (CDA) – required of mining companies in Kenya to distribute some of their profits to local communities, such as schools or roads, are an opportunity to ensure local communities benefit from mining. Though mining started in Kwale in 2013, the Community Development Agreement Committee – a committee made up of representatives from government, the community, the company and civil society, and designed to lead on the use of the development funds, was only formally set up in early 2020. In early 2021, after the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic eased, the Committee began preliminary community consultation meetings for the development of draft agreements.