Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi said his ministry was keen to move in and start exploiting the natural resource to help alleviate poverty among the residents as well as boost the country’s income.
He said the coal deposits in the country, including others in Mwingi District, were large enough to set up a steel mill.
“Tharaka-Nithi county is set to become one of the richest. We have discovered huge iron ore deposits and coal deposits that can sustain a steel mill,” said the minister, who is also the South Imenti MP.
According to former area MP Francis Kagwima, the deposits are worth “billions of shillings and can last for more than 30 years”.
Mr Kagwima has been prospecting in the Kithiori area in Tharaka South District through his Nyalyka Enterprises.
Speaking to the Daily Nation over the phone, Mr Kagwima said Chinese, Indian and South African companies had expressed interest in setting up steel mills to smelt iron from neighbouring Mwingi and Kitui districts as well as Tanzania.
“The government had informed us that they want to smelt locally. It is a viable idea if they combined iron ore from other areas. It could run for more than 30 years,” he said.
Mr Murungi said the sustainability of the Meru and Tharaka-Nithi counties will depend on the establishment of industries to boost employment opportunities.
Speaking in Nkubu Town, Mr Murungi said the presence of arable land under coffee, tea and other horticultural products enabled the region to have an edge over other parts of the country.
He challenged area residents to take advantage of the Meru National Park to set up hotels and tour agencies.
“Let us focus on education of our young people and encourage them to study foreign languages like French, German and Spanish. This way they will be tour guides for tourists visiting the Meru National Park,” said Mr Murungi.
He said that once mines were set up, the proceeds would greatly benefit the residents and boost the area’s economy.
Source: Daily Nation on Web Kenya Image: us-cdn.creamermedia.co.za