26th March 2019
By Justus Mutua
Kitui County is endowed with abundant mineral resources and these include copper ore.Copper ore is a mineral compound that consists of the metal copper symbolized as Cu and other trace elements such as Iron and Sulphur and Arsenic.
This is in the class of base metals and forms from igneous processes. Abundant copper ore (CuFeSO2) in Kitui occurs in Mithikwani area in Kithumula/Kwa Mutonga ward in Kitui West.
Other parts where it occurs are in Kiromboko along R. Tyaa in Kiomo/Kyethani ward in Mwingi West and Kamui village along Yatta plateau in Athi ward, Kitui South Sub County.
Figure 1: Copper ore at Mithikwani in Kitui West Sub County.
Formation and extraction of Copper ore
The copper ore type in this area is copper carbonate (malachite/Azurite) which forms from chemical alteration of copper sulfide by oxidation due to weathering of exposed copper sulfides on the earth’s surface.
This results in blue and green pigments of copper compounds which act as indicators for the copper metal occurrence. Copper (I) and Copper (II) oxides are also formed; such as cuprites and tenorite respectively.
Copper also forms from igneous (hypogene) processes primarily to form chalcopyrite, enargite and also forms by leaching of copper sulfides from the earth’s surface to form chalcocite and covellite.
Copper is malleable, ductile and recyclable thus can be re-used over and over again without losing its quality. Opencast mining method is applied in the extraction of the copper ore since its occurrence is near the earth’s surface at an average of approximately 3m deep.
“Uses of copper,
Copper is a metal element in the same group with gold and silver and is used in various forms such as electrical and thermal conductors, coins, making jewelry such as sterling silver and is also mixed with other metals such as tin and aluminum to make bronze and brass alloys respectively.
Its pigments are used to make fungicides.
Benefits of the ore to the County
Kitui County can thus benefit from the extraction of this rich mineral by empowering their communities on artisanal and small scale mining.
The county should also seek reliable market where all the extracted copper ore shall be delivered.With all this process, wealth creation will have been stimulated and all people in Kitui County will ultimately benefit from the mineral extraction.
The existing prospectors of the copper ore should also initiate the plans for extracting the mineral whereby this shall provide revenues and royalties to the County Government and people of Kitui County at large.
Electricity industry will also grow and thus Kitui County will be an ideal destination for economic investments and energy.
Write to us; email firstname.lastname@example.org