The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining has on Tuesday released an International Expression of Interest (EOI) to establish a gold refinery in Kakamega County.

The gold refinery is set to improve the quality of gold which will increase revenue for the country.

“The project aims to add quality to raw gold and improve its value through refining. Further, the project will improve the livelihoods of the beneficiary communities, regional economy and that of Kenya as a whole through the creation of direct and indirect employment opportunities,” the Petroleum and Mining Ministry said in a notice on Tuesday.

The gold mining industry in Kenya is under-exploited in Kenya despite the discovery of gold deposits in Western Kenya.

Thousands of artisanal and small-scale gold miners do gold mining in the country. However, they are not very competent.

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According to Planet Gold Kenya (a partnership between the Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)), there are 250,000 artisanal miners in the country. However, they use toxic substances such as mercury which negatively affect human and environmental health. Nonetheless, a legal framework was set up in 2016 to govern the industry.

There are about one million artisanal miners in Kenya which are set to contribute about 10 per cent of Kenya’s GDP by 2030.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Economic Survey shows that an average of 381kg of gold has been produced in the last five years.

However, in 2019, 395kg of gold was produced which is an equivalent of Ksh2.96 billion.

Gold earnings are expected to be higher this year as investors have increased their shares due to the current global economic uncertainties.