Kwale Dispatch: Investigating Tiomin Resources' Criminal Activities In Kenya

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

'Kwale Dispatch’ was produced by ZAHRA MOLOO of CKUT Radio in Montreal, with translations from Kiswahili by Andrew Mwangura.  It features interviews taken in August 2005 with villagers of the affected areas of Maumba and Nguluku as well as representatives of the human rights organizations Muhuri, (Muslims for Human Rights), and the Coast Rights Forum. It provides insight into the history of the titanium mining deal, its impact on the people of the region and on the environment, and exposes the irresponsible and unprofessional nature of Tiomin's corporate practices.

Download the documentary as an MP3 file here.

Tiomin Resources, a Toronto-based mining company, concluded a deal with the Kenyan government in July 2004 for a 21 year lease to mine for titanium in Kwale district, Kenya. Hailed as the largest foreign investment deal in the country, the project was estimated to displace about 5000 indigenous Kenyans and farmers residing in the contested area.

In the year 2000 the Coast Mining Rights Forum had demanded that the project comply with both Kenyan and international standards. This seems a contradictory demand as Kenyan land laws do not offer protection for farmers who have no title deeds, leaving a large proportion of the Kwale inhabitants who were farming the land - long before the land laws were created - vulnerable to displacement without compensation.

Moreover, as stated by Rights and Democracy, the mining deal violates the Universal Declaration of Human rights, which states that nobody shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property. The farmers who are “legally” eligible for compensation receive a meager $80 000 Kenya Shillings per acre (the equivalent of less than $1000 Canadian dollars) while the project is estimated to generate a staggering $11 billion, only 2.75% of which will go to the Kenyan economy as a whole.

The mining deal has neither the proper legal consent from the farmers affected nor any concrete plans to mitigate its environmental impacts. 400 km of a complex and beautiful coastal ecosystem, as well as essential water catchments and wells used by the residents of the area are under threat from water depletion, sulphur dioxide emissions and the release of hazardous radioactive substances.

On April 13, 2007, at 3 am, seven farmers who had refused to leave their land to make way for the mining project were forcibly evicted by security agents acting under the orders of the Kenyan government, and their houses razed to the ground in a criminal act which clearly had the company’s consent. Among them was a mother of eight and a blind man whose farm is the only source of revenue for his 4 children in school.  Forcible evictions and the use of terror tactics against the local population demonstrate the unsound nature of this entire agreement.   The company’s agents have thus far acted with total disregard for the lives of the people of Kwale whom they regard as mere hindrances in this project, a fact revealed most clearly during the company’s AGM when a Director of the company nonchalantly announced to its shareholders that the “farmers are gone.”

During the same meeting, company executives also claimed not have engaged in bribery or corruption, which, as revealed by the interviews we conducted with human rights groups and farmers in Kwale, is blatantly untrue.

Tiomin Resources is only one among many Canadian mining companies notorious for their illegal and exploitative activities in countries where human rights and environmental laws are outdated, ambiguous or altogether absent.