Communities May Not Have Been Very Comfortable With the Upcoming Mine

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Interview with Valentina Bowyer, Base Titanium Public Relations Officer, on questions concerning people.

I am Jolene, this are my colleagues Anifa and Jasmine. We are Nice View Reporters. What is your name, please?

I’m Valentina and I am public relations of Base Titanium.

For how long have you been working at Base Titanium?

I personally started to work at Base Titanium just two years ago.

How many hours do you work a day?

I have to report at 7:30 and my shift is until 5 o’clock, so that’s about 9 hours.

What are the challenges you have faced so far?

Mining is a new concept in Kenya, and the communities may not have been very comfortable with it happening. How we handle that challenge is by consistently educating our communities about what we do and always giving facts to our communities, so they don’t feel like they are missing out on any information. Most of our employees will come from the villages and areas around us. In terms of other challenges, we have a great personnel that know what their jobs are. If any challenges are coming up, for example in the plant, we have a 24 hours maintenance team. If something with mining happens, there is a whole team associated to work on it straight away.

How do you relate with the surrounding community?

At Base Titanium, we have a community department. In this department, we have a health section, we have a livelihood section, and we have an infrastructure section. Those three do three very separate jobs but they all have to work together. The community health will encourage communities to have health units. Those health units have volunteers from the particular villages, and they educate their peers on things like jigger eradication and going to the hospital to have children. And the way that we encourage them to go to the hospital to have children is by building a maternity wing at Likoni hospital. That’s two parts of community working together, infrastructure and health. We also have helped to build a blood bank and provided an ambulance for Msambweni, and as many villages as possible around the mine site and around Likoni port facility are supported to make sure that they receive good health care. We provide scholarships for secondary and tertiary education. We renovate schools. With the livelihood project we are assisting farmers around the area to make sure that they are growing crops so that they don’t have a loss of income at the end of the mine life. We are also building a business park called Pavi Business Park to revive the Kwale cotton industry and  benefit Kwale County as a whole. The ginnery will take picked Kwale cotton and produce cotton fibre. We help provide connections for exporting to an international market.

How have people from the surrounding communities have benefited from you?

Mainly through employment. Over 60 per cent of our total population of employees come from Kwale county. We also help with the scholarships to educate children from Kwale County and Likoni sub-county. We support health and livelihood projects. So we have tried to tap into every faction of the community.

Which methods did you use to find the Titanium?

Before you can mine, you need to know where to find the minerals. So we have a team of geologists that study the lay of the land, showing where the minerals can be found. Our exploration team go out and take samples from those different areas and use laboratory testing to confirm what minerals are in the samples.

How many types of minerals are mined here?

We are mining only three, Rutile, Ilmenite and Zircon. If we are lucky enough to find any more, it goes back in the soil, because we don’t need it.

Why are people wearing uniforms of different colors at the mine?

The majority of the staff of Base Titanium will be in orange and blue. If you are an apprentice or an intern, you get different colored shirts so that you get easily recognized. One is in red, the other one is in a full blue jumpsuit. If you come from Base Toliara, our sister company, then you tend to be in yellow.

What is the work of the managers of Base Titanium?

We have 3 General Managers at Base Titanium and they are tasked with overseeing three separate sections: Operations, Environment and Community Affairs and External Affairs. The GM for Operations is in charge of lots of departments, all involved with the smooth running of the Kwale Mine and Likoni Port Facility. The GM of Environment and Community Affairs ensures that our closest neighbours (the community) and our environment (including the nursery onsite) are looked after. The GM for External Affairs handles communication with the National and County Government as well as all information that is in the public domain.

What is the vision of Base Titanium company?

A main vision was when we first started that we went from a company that was a 97 per cent expatriat employee to precisely the opposite so that we are 97 per cent Kenyan, and we have managed to do that by 2020.

Thank you very much for this interview.

You are very welcome.