Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

M2 Cobalt, Jervois Mining Coming Hard On Uganda

It is going to be a busy year for M2 Cobalt Corp in Uganda after the Canadian mining firm said it will approximately drill 6,000 metres at its various Ugandan properties. M2 Cobalt chief executive officer Mr. Simon Clarke said the company was pleased to be launching the next phase of its exploration campaign. The firm completed around 2,000 metres of diamond drilling before Christmas last year - mainly at priority targets at its Kilembe-area properties.

It said this year's program will include diamond and reverse circulation (RC) drilling and plans to launch additional ground geophysics (magnetics and Induced Polarization (IP) and rock grab and soil sampling within existing and recently acquired exploration licenses.

"We have a very large asset base with numerous large-scale targets and significant potential for new discoveries," said Mr. Simon Clarke, CEO of M2 Cobalt.  Adding that "The ability to leverage what we have learned to date into this expanded phase of drilling strengthens our position significantly. We are also extremely pleased to be able to add the technical and financial resources of Jervois as we move through the merger process and combine operations."

M2 Cobalt also revealed that its merger with Jervois Mining Ltd was progressing well after receiving support from shareholder. It said it expects a formal shareholder approval to be obtained via a vote in early to mid-May 2019. “We are also extremely pleased to be able to add the technical and financial resources of Jervois as we move through the merger process and combine operations.” said Mr. Clarke

As part of the process, M2 Cobalt said it had now satisfied all outstanding conditions for the drawdown of the US$3 million working capital facility from Jervois, which will be used to fund the continuation and expansion of the initial drill program and the next phase of exploration. The funds are set to be used for the continuation and expansion of its initial drill program and the next phase of exploration.

The drill program will expand work undertaken at the Waragi and Nile targets, with up to 3,000m of drilling planned to systematically test the large regional cobalt/copper geochemical anomaly discovered across the Buajagli licenses in southern Uganda during 2018.

Under the definitive agreement signed in January, the two companies will merge via an all-market transaction whereby each common share of M2 Cobalt will be exchanged for one common share of Jervois.

Jervois launched a friendly merger with the M2 Cobalt back in January, giving the company a “transformational” foothold in Uganda through the historical Kilembe copper-gold mine.

Meanwhile, M2 Cobalt and Jervois have annoucned that the newly combined company is merging with Idaho cobalt company eCobalt Solutions Inc. The newly formed company will have projects in Australia, East Africa and the US, including eCobalt’s Idaho Cobalt project, which boasts the highest combination of cobalt grade and scale in North America.

The combination will involve the acquisition of all of the issued and outstanding shares of eCobalt and will not impact the previously announced merger of M2 Cobalt and Jervois, the company said in a statement.

"We are fully supportive of Jervois undertaking a transaction with eCobalt, and look forward to securing eCobalt's high-grade Idaho Cobalt Project for the combined group,” said Mr. Clarke.

“The combination with eCobalt advances our combined goal of building the pre-eminent, mid-tier, multi-jurisdictional battery materials supplier and secures one of the highest quality cobalt deposits globally.”

Govt Must Stop Violating Laws On Oil Revenue – Civil Society

The continued misuse and violation of oil revenue laws in Uganda by the executive arm of government has irked members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). The CSOs now want parliament to find a solution even if they feel legislative arm of government has failed to use its oversight powers to ensure compliance to oil revenue laws for the benefit of the citizens.

The CSOs under the headship of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) last month at a meeting commenced a solution seeking discussion following government’s withdrawal of Shs200billion from the Petroleum Fund in March 2019 without parliamentary approval to reportedly fund deficits in the 2018/2019 budget.

The other CSOs which participated in the meeting included National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), World Voices Uganda (WVU), Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG), Guild presidents Forum on Oil Governance (GPFOG), Green Organisation Africa, Girl Power Foundation, Kanungu Youth and Women Empowerment Group, Oil Refinery Residents Association (ORRA), Kakindo Orhpans and others.

LACK OF COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY

This act by government, the CSOs say, is against provisions of the Public Finance Management Act of 2015 which provides for how oil revenues are supposed to be spent. A communique shared by these Civil Society Organizations points out that apart from violating the Public Finance Management Act, the executive lacks commitment to transparency even if Uganda joins the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

“Since 2015 when the Public Finance Management Act was put in place, government has ignored the need to put in place a framework to guide how oil revenues from the consolidated fund and national budget shall be used for development as opposed to consumption. Instead, government continues to withdraw oil revenues even without parliamentary approval,” reads part of the communique.

They also fault Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) of 2015 for failing to separate oil revenues from other revenues even though it emphasizes that oil revenues shall only be invested in infrastructure and development projectsAt what stage can the government separate oil revenues from the rest of the revenues in the Consolidated Fund to ensure it is not spent on consumption such as creation of districts, paying RDCs and others?” they question.

EXCESSIVE POWERS TO THE MINISTER

The other issues these CSOs raise is that the same Public Finance Management Act gives excessive powers to the minister under sections 56(3), 64(3), 65(1), 67(2&7) and 68, including overall powers to manage Petroleum Fund, making agreements, deciding to issue policy guidelines and appointing of members of the Investment Advisory Committee.

The CSOs believe that Uganda needs a strong law that provides for personal liabilities against those who use their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of the public. It is at this point that they castigated government failure to implement recommendations from Parliament's Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) committee on Shs6 billion “presidential handshake” including possibly refunding the stolen money.

AMEND T PUBLIC FINANCE MANAGEMENT ACT 2015

As a recommendation, the CSOs want parliament to use her oversight powers to pressure the Minister of Finance to table a bill to amend the Public Finance Management Act 2015. After the amendment, the new law should provide for the establishment of a well-represented independent multi-stakeholder accountability committee (IMAC). The law should also specify the terms of reference (ToRs) of the multi-stakeholder accountability committee, enforcement, membership criteria, remuneration and how to punish offenders. The minister, according to this arrangement will be required to report to IMAC every after 30 days. The amendment would also require that government to implement all parliamentary recommendations regarding oil revenues within a period of 6 months from the date of tabling and provide for personal liability for government officials including the minister if his or her actions lead to loss of revenues without reasonable defense.

REFUND WITHDRAWN OIL REVENUES

The other recommendations from the CSOs are that government should urgently refund the Shs200 billion and other oil revenues withdrawn from the Petroleum Fund in contravention of the oil revenues laws and transparency best practices; withdrawals from the Petroleum Fund should be halted until amendment of Public Finance Management Act 2015; consider an EITI law before completing the process of becoming a member and rest powers to oversee withdrawals from the Petroleum Fund and investment of oil revenues into hands of  IMAC but not the minister. They also want CSOs to increase their efforts to sensitize the public about available oil revenues and mobilise them to call for the amendment of the Public Finance Management Act of 2015, appointment of investment advisory committee members, voting of the IMAC and others in order to create enough public pressure for transparency.

Why Uganda Should Prepare To Reap Big From Approaching Cannabis Market

The world is opening up and becoming more ‘accommodative’ towards medical cannabis trade as its market size continues to expand. Researchers each day discover more benefits from the largely prohibited herb.

While the global market for cannabis was estimated to reach a value of US$ 13.4 Billion in 2018, it is further expected to reach the value of US$ 44.4 Billion by 2024, exhibiting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.9% during 2019-2024.

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug which is derived from the cannabis plant of the Cannabaceae family. It has been used medicinally for several years in ancient Indian, Chinese, Egyptian and Islamic cultures.

Treating A Wide Range Of Diseases

Nowadays, cannabis finds application in the treatment of a wide range of diseases and symptoms including cancer, chronic pain, depression, arthritis, diabetes, glaucoma, migraines, epilepsy, MS, AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, etc.

Owing to its therapeutic benefits, cannabis has been approved for medical use in numerous countries, with varying degrees of legal restriction. Some of these countries include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, etc.

Clinical trials, R&D activities and commercialization of cannabis-based indications are further expected to catalyze the growth of the market. Cannabis is safer and has less severe side effects in comparison to other treatment options.

It also finds usage along with other treatments either to enhance their effect or to combat negative side effects. For instance, cannabis is very effective in reducing nausea and increasing appetite among the chemotherapy patients, making the agonizing treatment more tolerable.

Similarly, it is also used in combination with traditional opioid painkillers, which enables patients to significantly reduce the dosage and frequency of opioids, and also imparts greater pain relief.

A steadily rising ageing population has also played an significant role in driving the demand for medical cannabis as geriatric patients are more likely to develop chronic illnesses and require more physician visits.

Although expenditure on health products are less susceptible to fluctuations in consumer’s expenditure, the uptake of medical marijuana is liable to changes in disposable income due to its unconventional nature. As a result, we expect increasing disposable incomes to create a positive impact on the demand of medical cannabis.

Cannabis in Uganda

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng told a press conference at Uganda Media Cente recently that growing of marijuana or cannabis is illegal but negotiations are underway to legalize it with proper legislation and regulation.

Global companies have expressed interest to do medicinal marijuana business with Uganda but the ministry of health has sat on this breakthrough in the guise of undertaking policy research and regulation formulation.

According to a news report by Daily Monitor, Uganda is set to export medical marijuana products to Canada and Germany worth Shs600b in June. It has also emerged that on December 7, 2017, Uganda exported unrefined cannabis buds/ flowers to South Africa’s National Analytical Forensic Services in Pretoria. The order to Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, a private company, was valued at $10,000 (Shs37.1m).

The marijuana exports from a farm in Kasese District include Cannabinol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with mixture of 2.7mg THC and 2.5mg CBD for Sativex drugs approved in USA, Europe and Canada. Oil Risin contain Dronabinol for making Marinol and syndros capsules and CBD enriched creams for various skin disorders.

Mr Benjamin Cadet, one of the directors at Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, a private firm jointly working with an Israel company, Together Pharma Ltd, confirmed medical cannabis orders from at least 20,000 pharmacies in Canada and Germany.

“We signed annual supply contracts with pharmacies in Canada to a tune of $100m (Shs371.8b) and €58m (Shs242.3b) for Germany… the current contracts run for 10 years but along the way, we shall expand to satisfy future demand,” Mr Cadet said.

Marijuana companies have reportedly submitted in their bid to ministry of health seeking licensing; the ministry is yet to respond to them with a positive response. These include Industrial Hemp (U) Ltd, Together Pharma Ltd and Natgro Phama (U) Ltd.

Others are Medraw (U) SMC Ltd, Urban Properties (U) Ltd, Prime Ranchers, Silver Seeds (U) Ltd, Dave and Dave Group, Seven Blades, Cannops Africa, Quest Worths International Group, Premier Hemp, Sativa Agro-tech Ltd, Zeus Agro Ltd and Owesia U Ltd.

Uganda Needs More Nuclear Scientists

Uganda and African countries need more scientists trained in the use of nuclear science whose use is growing globally. Nuclear science and technology involves the study and use of nuclear energy which is a clean source of energy and for other purposes such as medical treatment for cancer.

Nuclear power plays an important role in providing large amounts of clean and reliable electricity to support the growing energy needs cheaply.

The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Eng. Irene Muloni while addressing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology said that in view of advancement in nuclear energy applications in terms of technology and quantity, there is need to match the human resources capacity with the infrastructure development.

The conference was held under the theme: ‘Addressing Current and Emerging Development Challenges’ in Vienna, Austria, recently.

“In Africa little is known about the positive contribution of nuclear energy. I  would  like  to  reaffirm Uganda’s  commitment towards strengthening  the  national  infrastructure  for nuclear  safety,  security  and  safeguards,” Eng. Muloni said.

The conference aimed at facilitating high-level dialogue among participants on nuclear science, technology and applications for peaceful uses, and on their delivery to IAEA member states, mainly through the agency's technical cooperation programme, while highlighting their future contribution to sustainable development.

With reference to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development reiterated the inalienable right of state parties to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

PEACEFUL NUCLEAR USE OFFER SOLUTIONS

Eng. Muloni added that global cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology over the years has provided solutions to a number of challenges facing humanity in the areas of: - human health, agricultural productivity, water resource management, environmental restoration and energy. The minister commended the agency for the continuous technical assistance to member states to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

She applauded the agency for the contribution towards the restoration of radiotherapy services at the Uganda Cancer Institute.

Notably, the application of nuclear science and technology can be used to facilitate the attainment of nine of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. In light of this the use of nuclear energy to address socio-economic challenges to humanity is on the increase.

During the conference the minister held bilateral discussions with IAEA director general, Yukiya Amano and the director TCAF, division for Africa in the department of Technical Cooperation Shaukat Abdulrazak on enhancing technical cooperation in the expansion of radiotherapy centers, strengthening food safety laboratory, nuclear power infrastructure development and capacity building in nuclear science and technology.

PRODUCING 2,000 MEGAWATTS OF POWER

In the next 10 to 15 years, Uganda plans to produce 2,000 megawatts of power from nuclear power plants. Uganda Vision 2040 identifies inadequate supply of modern energy services as a key bottleneck for sustainable development. Uganda huge deposits of uranium which can be used to fuel nuclear power plants.

South Africa has two nuclear reactors generating 5% of its electricity with plans to increase its use. Over 11% of the world’s electricity today is produced from nuclear energy.

The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy on June 19th 2017 in Moscow.

The document set out a framework for co-operation with a focus on development of nuclear power infrastructure in Uganda and the uses of radioisotopes and radiation technologies, applications in industry, medicine, agriculture and other areas.

The memorandum covered collaboration on human resource education and training, nuclear research centers, nuclear energy among others.

 

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