The socio-economic and environmental effects of mining in Kenya: a case study of fluorspar mining in Kerio Valley
In the past two and half decades mining activities of fluorspar have been operational in the southern part of the Keno Valley. However very little socio-economic and environmental studies have been conducted to establish the concomitant effects of fluorite mineral development in the Valley. This study, therefore, attempts to identify and quantify these effects of fluorspar mining. The objectives of the study are to examine the production and operations of fluorspar mining as well as to investigate the environmental and socioeconomic effects associated with fluorspar mining in Kerio Valley. The study utilises primary and secondary sources of data. The methodological approach adopted for primary data collection involved mainly the administration of questionnaires and interview schedules. Descriptive, parametric and non-parametric statistics were used to analyse and present the findings. The study established that fluorspar mining has a role to play in employment creation and revenue generation to the local authority. The correlation result showed that there exists a spurious relationship between the employment and production of fluorspar over the years which indicate that there is a fairly limited potential for imensification of fluorspar production as well as creating additional employment opportunities, but on the other hand there is a corresponding relationship between export earnings and fluorspar production which indicate that there is a positive but strong association. This implies that there is a bright future for expanding export earnings of fluorspar. The development of fluorspar production and processing industry have made some environmental degradation. The open cast method of mining involving blasting has contributed to land dereliction. From the survey, 11% of the total respondents interviewed ranked land disfigurement and use of explosives in blasting fluorite as the most critical environmental hazards. Similarly, 70% of the respondents had a perception that fluorspar mining activities in Kerio Valley contribute to contamination of surface water in Keno river which is a key resource in the Valley's life support system. The study revealed that fluorspar mining has opened - up Keno Valley southfor development. For example 90.1% of the respondents ranked the establishment of good transport network as the most important contribution of mining to development in the Keno Valley. Several commercial and trading centres have sprung up as a direct consequence of -- fluorspar mining operations which , provide reliable opportunities for the local people to sell their agricultural products and other goods and services to the people living and working in the mine area. Substantial business development can also be attributed to Fluorspar mining. For example, 55.8% reckoned that all trading and commercial ventures are dependent on fluorspar mining activities. The location of fluorspar mining concern in the valley has brought about the development of other infrastructural units which the valley community utilises at nominal charges. This include, clean piped water, medical and educational services. Although the provision of electricity and telephone services is the domain of private sector contribution, the adoption of these services for mineral production by KFC have made it possible for the businessmen and other individuals to get access to electricity and telephone services at affordable costs. However, the most tragic impact of fluorspar mining in Kerio Valley is the unresolved question of the displacement of 1200 households to set aside land for mining, without adequate compensation and alternative place for settlement. The study concludes that there is need for formulation of clear-cut mining policies and regulations which address proper compensation and resettlement strategies as well as providing for greater weight on environmental protection from undesirable effects of mining.