Idled Kenyan fluorspar mine restart

News Analysis




Idled Kenyan fluorspar mine restart

The idled Kenya fluorspar mine in Kimwarer is expected to resume operations within six months. 

Following the agreement signed in February (see Blue View 21 Feb), news has emerged that the operations will be restarted within six months, far earlier than initially expected. Soy Fluorspar (UK) Ltd, Fujax UK, and Fujax East Africa entered a three-party agreement worth Ksh4.8Bn (US$35M) with the Kenyan Government to enter into a 25-year lease to occupy the government-owned land and resume operations on the idled fluorspar mine.  This also includes a sum for the local community. The government will retain a stake of 15% in the company, which it took over in 2018.

The mine, previously operated by the Kenya Fluorspar Company, was the sole producer of fluorspar in Kenya and was permanently closed in 2016 due to a drop in demand for fluorspar and low mineral prices. The operation is at Kimwarer in Elgeyo Marakwet County. The deposit is located in the Kerio Valley, which is approximately 300km by road northwest of Nairobi. However, as well as finding a suitable investment partner, issues of land compensation and ownership have had to be resolved which have been on-going since the closure.

Kenyan fluorspar exports have decreased significantly, with only small amounts being exported since 2021. These exports are likely sourced from illegal mining operations in the inactive fluorspar mine. The Kenyan government has taken measures to address illegal mining, including the announcement of a 10-vehicle fleet in March 2024 intended for surveillance and monitoring in areas susceptible to illegal mining

During its peak, the Kimwarer fluorspar mine produced over 100ktpy of acidspar, with a significant portion being exported to countries such as Germany, India, and Italy. Project Blue projects a 5.8% CAGR in acidspar demand from 2023 to 2034, indicating a growing global demand. As a result, some closed and idle fluorspar mines are being reevaluated for potential reactivation in other countries, including Italy, Germany and Canada.