Kenya cancels mining licenses; gold royalties double

In a move that surprised mining companies, the Kenyan government has revoked some mining licenses and doubled gold royalties to 5%, Reuters reports.

All licenses issued between January 14 and May 15 2013 – with the exception of the oil and gas sectors – have been revoked. The move comes after the government received several complaints about the issuance process during the five month period – a time when the government was undergoing major leadership changes.

Companies operating in the country say they had no idea this was coming.

"We followed all the legally required procedures that culminated in our being given these licenses," an anonymous employee of Canada's Pacific Wildcat Resources told Reuters. "I am confident whatever the reasons for the revocations, we are clean."

Najib Balala, Kenya's mining secretary said the government, which was elected in April, wants to "ensure the country gains from the mineral potential."

Balala has also created a panel which will review all licenses granted since January 2003.

Kenya -a  largely unexplored mining destination – has more than 300 mining firms exploring and producing the country's resources. The Africa nation has proven deposits of titanium, gold and coal and possible reserves of copper, magnese, niobium and rare earths, Fox News writes.

Creative Commons image by: Nicolas Raymond