Trona mining on Lake Magadi


L.Magadi is 120km S.W of Nairobi on the floor of the Great Rift Valley.


Trona deposits occur as a solution of sodium salts the main ones being sodium
sequicarbonate and sodium chloride.

Mode of Formation

  • Rain water dissolves soda salts in volcanic rocks.
  • The solution percolates through the rocks and soil and gets beneath the
  • basin.
  • The accumulated solution is heated by the hot rocks beneath.
  • Pressure builds up and the heated solution is pushed to the surface.
  • It comes out of the ground inform of hot springs below or on the sides of the lake.
  • Due to high temperature water evaporates leaving behind crystals of trona.

Extraction and Processing

  • A dredger scoops trona out of the lake.
  • It crushes it into smaller pieces and separates it from rock debris.
  • The material is mixed with water to form slurry and transported to factory on the lake’s shore.
  • In the factory the slurry is mixed with water to wash out impurities such as mud and salt and dried.
  • It is sent to desiccators and heated to remove moisture and hydrogen to form soda ash.
  • Soda ash is cooled and ground into powder and sieved.
  • It’s packed into paper bags, weighed and transported to the market.

Uses of Soda ash

Used in the:

  • Glass industry in the manufacture of glasses and bottles.
  • Manufacture of soaps and detergents.
  • Softening water in paper making.
  • In textile industry.
  • In oil refining.


Describe the distribution of rocks in Kenya

The distribution of rocks in Kenya is diverse and influenced by various geological processes and historical events. Kenya is located in the eastern part of Africa and encompasses different geological regions, each characterized by distinct rock formations. Here is a general overview of the distribution of rocks in Kenya:

  • Coastal Region: Along the Kenyan coast, the dominant rocks are sedimentary in nature. Sandstone, limestone, and coral rock formations are prevalent in this region. The coastal areas are known for their sandy beaches, cliffs, and coral reefs.
  • Eastern Plateau: The eastern part of Kenya, including the Eastern Rift Valley, is characterized by volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks. This region is marked by volcanic activity, resulting in the formation of basalt flows, tuff deposits, and volcanic cones. Mount Kenya, an extinct stratovolcano, is the highest peak in Kenya and is located in this region.
  • Rift Valley System: The Great Rift Valley runs through the western part of Kenya and is associated with a wide range of rock formations. This region showcases diverse geology, including volcanic rocks, sedimentary deposits, and ancient lake beds. The Rift Valley is known for its stunning landscapes, such as Lake Turkana, Lake Nakuru, and the famous Hell’s Gate National Park.

  • Central Highlands: The central highlands of Kenya are composed of ancient Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rocks. These rocks have undergone intense heat and pressure, resulting in the formation of gneisses, granites, and schists. This region is also home to the Aberdare Range and the Ngong Hills.
  • Western Kenya: The western part of Kenya is characterized by a mixture of sedimentary, volcanic, and metamorphic rocks. The area around Lake Victoria is known for its volcanic rocks, while parts of western Kenya have sedimentary deposits that contain valuable resources such as oil, gas, and minerals.

It’s important to note that the distribution of rocks in Kenya is not limited to the regions mentioned above, and there may be variations and overlaps in rock types within different geological areas. The geological diversity of Kenya provides a rich foundation for various landforms, natural resources, and landscapes throughout the country.


8 Problems Facing the Mining Industry in Kenya

The mining industry in Kenya faces several challenges that hinder its growth and development.

Here are some of the key problems facing the mining industry in Kenya:

Inadequate Capital: The lack of sufficient capital limits Kenya’s ability to fully benefit from its mineral resources. The mining sector often relies on multinational companies that have the financial resources to invest in exploration and extraction. This situation leads to limited local participation and results in a significant portion of mining profits leaving the country as multinational companies recover their costs.

Inaccessible Mineral Deposits: Some mineral-rich areas in Kenya are difficult to access due to poor transport infrastructure. The lack of proper roads, railways, and other transportation facilities makes it challenging for prospecting, mining operations, and the transportation of extracted minerals. This limitation hampers the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in these areas.

Insufficient Skilled Personnel: Kenya faces a shortage of skilled personnel in the mining sector, leading to a heavy reliance on expatriates who may demand higher wages. The high cost of employing foreign experts reduces the profitability of mining operations. Developing a skilled local workforce through training and education programs could help address this challenge and enhance the industry’s productivity and profitability.

Control by Foreign Companies: A significant portion of the mining industry in Kenya is controlled by foreign companies. This control means that a significant share of mineral revenues, in the form of salaries and dividends, ends up leaving the country. Limited local participation and control of the industry by foreign entities can impact the economic benefits that could be derived from the country’s mineral resources.

Economically Unviable Deposits: Some mineral deposits in Kenya are small and not economically viable for extraction. This issue poses challenges in attracting investment and developing mining operations. Without economically viable deposits, it becomes challenging to generate profits and sustain the industry’s growth.

Lack of Power Supply: Remote areas with significant mineral resources often face a lack of reliable power supply. The availability of electricity is crucial for mining operations, as it powers machinery and other equipment. Insufficient power supply in these areas can hinder mining activities and make it difficult to fully exploit the mineral resources.

Land Use Conflicts: Land use conflicts can arise between mining activities and other land uses, such as agriculture, conservation, or residential areas. These conflicts can delay or even halt mining operations, causing disruptions and uncertainties in the industry. Resolving land use conflicts and ensuring sustainable land use planning are crucial for the development of the mining sector.

Addressing these challenges requires a coordinated effort involving government initiatives, private sector participation, and community engagement. Improving infrastructure, investing in human capital development, promoting local participation, and addressing regulatory and policy gaps are essential steps towards the sustainable growth of the mining industry in Kenya.


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