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Evicted Kenyans demand compensation after mining firm exits

Evicted Kenyans demand compensation after mining firm exits

Nathaniel Tumo was astounded when an excavator arrived at his farm in western Kenya four years ago and started digging for minerals, almost bringing down his house.

"They started blasting a few metres away and the stones fell on my house," said Tumo, 62, his breath laboured from living alongside the open pit, with its dust, noise and falling rocks.

Kenya Fluorspar Company (KFC) turned two acres of Tumo's land, which he inherited from his father, into an open-cast mine but did not pay compensation, saying the government had acquired the land in the 1970s, decades before the firm's involvement.

The company was the largest employer in the Kerio Valley, with money trickling down to many local businesses, and it also spent millions of shillings improving local schools, paying scholarships and providing healthcare.

"The compensation has nothing to do with us. The lease area was taken by the government many years ago before even Kenya Fluorspar Company existed," Andre DeSimone, a director at KFC, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

The firm's 21-year mining lease expired in March, he added.

The abandoned pits have filled with rain, marked with danger signs to deter locals from entering the area.

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