Government Tasked To Enforce Laws Barring Child Miners

By George B. Niyonzima  

There is need for collective responsibility among stakeholders to curb child labour within the mining sector in Moroto district, Emmanuel Tebanyang, the Policy Analyst of Karamoja Development Forum (KDF), recently told tourists on a study tour in the area.

Tebanyanga says that government needs to enforce existing laws and also speed up formulating bylaws in the mining districts, especially Moroto, to reduce child labour.

He reveals that demand for children to work in the mines has seen toddlers not go to school. Children as young as seven years are employed in the mines, reports say.

He further disclosed that in areas where elementary mining is being done, children are engaged in hard labour activities for a small commissions.

This mostly happens in limestone quarrying sites in some sub counties of Moroto district.

Tebanyang said in the sub-counties of Katikekile and Tapac where Tororo Cement gets its limestone, children toil beyond their age and physical limits.

“Unfortunately this has not translated into wealth for the abused children,” he said.

He further told journalists who were on a study tour organized by African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) that there is need to involve all stakeholders to reduce child labour in the mining industry.

Apollo Dan Majory, the sub county Chairperson of Rupa, while meeting the journalists at the sub county headquarters said that the sub county has managed to put bylaws to prevent children from working in the mines.

According to Majory, when a child is caught working in the mines, his or her parents are arrested and sentenced for community service.

“However much we have put bylaws as sub-county, we still have problem of enforcement. Because of this enforcement gap, some children have gone back to the work in the mines,” Majory revealed.

Majory called out his peers in the sub county to work together as a unit and share information to better position themselves in fighting against child labour in Rupa sub county and Moroto district at large.

David. A. Omido, the Logistics and Utility Manager at Tororo Cement, refuted accusations that the cement manufacturer employees kids in the limestone mines.

He rather claimed that parents employed by the company come with children in the mines. He said the children are made to sleep in the mines but don’t work.

Omido divulged that Tororo Cement is doing a feasibility study to inform its final investment of constructing a cement factory in Moroto district.

“We are still seeking to understand whether the available limestone deposits are enough and of good quality to sustain cement the factory.” Omido narrated.

Energy Ministry Stops Hard-Copy Applications For Mineral Rights

The energy ministry has said they have stopped receiving over the counter applications for mineral rights until the online application opens on August 30, 2019.

This is under the programme to upgrade the country’s Mining Cadastre and Registry System (MCRS) to an e-government based mineral licensing system

In a statement, Robert Kasande, the Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary said that from 12-29, August 2019, the government will not receive any mineral right application on the counter as it prepares for the online mineral applications and licensing system.

The online system was launched early this year but could not start as the ministry made preparations for its official start this month. The system will also see the particulars of artisanal miners captured into the online register.

The artisanal miners would be registered under the Biometric Registration of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Project (BRASM).

According to Kasande, through the online system, companies and individuals will be able to submit applications online, undertake all other business processes online and view the status of their application in real-time. The system is expected to cut on the paper clutter, reduce on incidences of corruption and cases of lost applications.

“The online mineral licensing system is expected to improve transparency and increase the accessibility of information, boost productivity, eliminate bureaucracy, reduce on the time taken to process applications for minerals rights,” Kasande said in a statement.

Mercury Continues To Eat Into Health Of Gold Miners

Gold is possibly the most mined mineral in Uganda. Even with the monetary value attached to it, it remains a rudimentary adventure for artisanal miners with little or no large scale gold mining currently ongoing.

The government carried out an airborne geophysical survey and geological mapping to identify areas with minerals including gold, only Karamoja missed the exercise because of insecurity, but no high profile company has been able to venture into large scale gold mining.

According to Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy (ACEMP), the places most known for gold mining in Uganda albeit rudimentarily are Mubende (Kitumbi, Kayonza gold fields), Namayingo gold fields on the shores of Lake Victoria in Eastern Uganda, the Buhweju gold fields in Western Uganda and Karamoja.

Artisanal And Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in Uganda is highly informal with no high tech exploration but rather discoveries are made by ‘barefoot geologists and sniffer dogs.’

The challenges of the artisanal miners are varied but one that stands out and has proven to be fatal is the continued use of two hazardous chemicals to hasten the process of extracting gold and separating it from the soils. These chemicals are mercury and cyanide. They are also hazardous to the environment.

EFFECTS OF MERCURY/HEALTH RISKS

World Health Organisation (WHO) says that mercury is toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The inhalation of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal. The inorganic salts of mercury are corrosive to the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract, and may induce kidney toxicity if ingested.

But even with these health dangers, and according to Mr. Don Bwesigye Binyina, the Executive Director of ACEMP, no specific laws are regulating the use of mercury in Uganda. He says the Mining Policy 2001, the Mining Act 2003 and the Mining Regulations of 2004 are silent on the use of mercury.

LAWS SILENT ON MERCURY USE

He explained that part six of the Mining Act, 2003 addresses the protection of the environment in mining operations but puts that responsibility into the hands of the holder of an exploration licence or mining lease who must carry out an environment impact assessment of his or her proposed operations in accordance with the provisions of the National Environment Act, Cap 153.

“Unfortunately, this requirement is only for holders of exploration licences and mining leases and does not cover holders of location licences who are predominantly small-scale miners applying mercury and cyanide in largely gold ore tailings to enhance their production,” Mr. Binyina stated. 

While most of artisanal gold miners are illegal, unlicensed and not regulated, Mr. Binyina reveals that there is a steady increase in the number of small-scale gold miners holding location licences and applying mercury and cyanide in gold extraction.

To avert this, the Mining and Minerals Policy 2018 proposes the organization and legislation of artisanal and small-scale mining operations and management of occupational health, safety and environment with special attention to mercury use in gold extraction in the ASGM sub-sector.

The policy also establishes a mechanism to monitor and enforce compliance to health, safety and with this policy, government seeks to promote the use of environmentally sound exploration and mining techniques and technology and to regulate the use of toxic and hazardous substances such as mercury and cyanide.

A revised national environment law has been aligned with the new mining policy framework to promote sound management of chemicals and products to protect human health and the environment.

Also, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is charged with engaging the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines (DGSM) to establish criteria for the classification of hazardous chemicals and products containing hazardous chemicals in accordance with the hazards they present to human health and the environment.

The law also provides for the monitoring water bodies, soils or any other receiving environment for any spill of hazardous chemicals and contamination; and monitoring of the effect of hazardous chemicals and their residue on human health and the environment.

MERCURY SOURCE AND TRADE

A study by ACEP on mercury importation reveals that informal in-country trade flows becoming increasingly evident. "Interviews from mercury trade statistics indicate that South Africa and Kenya are the principal source countries, although Malaysia appears to have dominated official mercury imports over the past two years.

According to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), eight consignments totalling 615 kg entered the country between January 2013 and February 2016, mostly from Kenya, as stated in official records. A representative of the URA emphasized that smuggling is likely to be rampant given the apparent lack of logistical and regulatory constraints," ACEMP said.

The leading actors in the mercury value chain are foreign traders from Kenya, Tanzania and DR Cong or sell local trader who takes it mining sites. The local trader according to ACEMP are also gold buyers who supply it to miners. Chinese mining companies and jewellery shops owned by Asian also trade mercury.

Malaba and Busia border posts on Uganda’s eastern border and Mutukula on the Southern border with Tanzania, are the major country's entry points for smuggled mercury. Uganda has also been reported to be a transit country for a mercury trade route feeding into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

THE CASE OF CYANIDE

Alongside mercury, cyanide was another preferred deadly chemical to extract gold but ACEMP says many operators are abandoning their cyanide plants due to the high operating costs while others do not operate at full capacity.

An interview by ACEMP with an operator of a CIP plant in Kasanda reveals on average one needs around Shs6.7 m daily to sustain a commercial CIP. Average ore grade of 3g/tonne would cost approximately Shs160m to produce 1.5 Kg of gold valued at approximately Shs200m living a meagre profit margin of Shs40 million in month.

However close to mother load ore grades of 5grams - 55 grams per tonne  could cost less than Shs40 m to produce between 1-5 kilograms in a week, but hastens to add that these ore grades are a rare occurrence. This largely explains the struggle by majority of ASMs to sustain such a capital intensive technology

In conclusion, ACEMP believes that reduction in mercury use will be more possible with inclusive cooperation and more business support in ASGM supply chains rather than hard policing and enforcement. Primary barriers to mercury reduction are driven by the cost of business for ASGM groups and buyers.

This means that the cost burden for shifting to hg free ASGM methods cannot be left entirely to these two groups. NAP strategies have to allow for testing, developing and incentivizing alternative options to mercury.

M2 Cobalt, Jervois Mining Ugandan Merger Okayed By Shareholders

Prospects of a merger between Canadian mining firm M2 Cobalt and Jervois Mining of Australia got a boost after shareholders gave the deal the much needed green lights.

This development will Jervois Mining what has been called a transformational foothold in Uganda’s Kilembe mines. When all formalities are completed Jervois will now acquire all of M2 Cobalt’s outstanding shares – issuing M2 Cobalt holders one Jervois share for every M2 Cobalt share held.

Jervois anticipates the transaction will be finalised this week, with the merged entity to trade as JRV on both the ASX and TSXV. The merger precedes a separate previously highlighted deal with eCobalt Solutions, which is expected to go through in July.

Once both mergers are complete, Jervois will be the world’s third largest cobalt company with a market cap of US$100 million. Jervois shareholders will own 40% of the combined entity, with M2 Cobalt holders possessing 11.4% and eCobalt 47%.

The combined entity will own numerous cobalt, nickel, copper and gold assets in Uganda, the US and Australia. eCobalt brings to the party its wholly-owned Idaho cobalt project in the US with a NI43-101 measured and indicated resource of 3.87 million tonnes at 0.59% cobalt and 0.85% copper. The deposit is open along strike and at depth.

Investors Unimpressed With World's Top Miners Performance

Revenue up 8% to $683 billion; EBITDA up 4% to $165 billion; Record dividend paid to shareholders of $43 billion up 13% ;Market capitalisation of the Top 40 down 18% to $757 billion, 31 Dec 2018 with partial recovery thereafter.

The world's 40 largest mining companies continued to consolidate their stellar performance of the past several years by delivering steady growth in 2018 according to PwC's Mine 2019 report released today.

As a group, the Top 40 increased revenue by 8%, buoyed by higher commodity prices and marginally improved production. They also boosted cash flows, paid down debt and provided a record dividend to shareholders of $43 billion.  Forecasts indicate continued steady performance in 2019. Revenue should remain stable, with weaker prices for coal and copper offsetting marginally higher production and higher average prices for iron ore.

Yet investors seemed unimpressed by the Top 40's result, judging by market valuations, which fell 18% over 2018. While total market capitalization rose in the first term of this year, it remains 8% down compared to the end of 2017.  Over the past 15 years, total shareholders' return in mining has lagged that of the market as a whole as well as comparable industries such as oil and gas.

Michal Kotzé, PwC Africa Energy Utilities & Resources Leader says: "In spite of the strong operating performance of the world's top miners, there is still more room for improvement for mining to continue to create and realise value in a sustainable manner. Both investors and other stakeholders have concerns about the mining industry's ability to respond to the risk and uncertainties of a changing world.

"Globally, stakeholders are concerned that the industry is lagging when it comes to a number of factors that have not been a traditional focus of the mining industry. These include dealing with emissions, investing in differentiating technology and digitisation, engaging more proactively with consumers and building brand.

"The mining industry will have a window of opportunity to adapt to the growing and changing expectations of stakeholders. By utilising technology to operate safely and more efficiently, addressing global concerns, and maintaining a disciplined strategy to create ongoing value for its stakeholders, the industry can forge a better future for all beneficiaries of mining."

 A chance to fix brand mining

With strong balance sheets and cash flow, now is the time for the mining industry to address the issues weighing down market valuations. Climate change, technology and changing customer sentiment are among many of the business challenges.

In order to restore faith in 'brand mining', the top miners will need to prove they are keeping up with the pace of change. Miners have a critical role to play in addressing the awareness gap between the brand of mining and the benefits of mining.

Balance sheets remain strong; capital expenditure up but slow

In 2018 the Top 40 paid down $15.5 billion in net borrowings, resulting in the gearing position dropping below the 10-year average. All liquidity and solvency ratios improved during the year, leaving the world's largest miners with strong balance sheets and cash flows.

In line with expectations, capital expenditures started to rise again, albeit from historically low levels.  The 13% increase over the previous year to $57 billion suggests that miners are continuing to proceed cautiously; approximately half of the capital expenditure in 2018 was for ongoing projects.

Copper and gold dominated spending in 2018, attracting $30 billion of investment. Capital expenditure on coal was consistent, year on year, and we expect miners will maintain current production levels while the coal price remains high.

Shareholders, government and other stakeholders rewarded

An 11% lift in operating cash flows has allowed the Top 40 to increase shareholder distributions in 2018 to a record $43 billion. Dividend yield for the year was 5.5%. There was a notable jump in share buybacks to $15 billion, up from $4 billion in 2017. Rio Tinto and BHP accounted for 70% of the total activity returning proceeds of non-core disposals to shareholders.

In 2018 the share of value distributed to governments in the form of direct taxes and royalties   increased from 19% to 21%. Employees received 22% of the total value distribution from the Top 40. "Mining along with oil & gas, distributes a greater share of its value to governments than almost any other sector," adds Andries Rossouw, PwC Assurance Partner.

"A number of countries have also implemented carbon taxes and/or emissions trading schemes." Of 25 countries in which the Top 40 operate, 13 countries have already implemented these taxes/schemes and nine countries are actively considering implementation.

M&A activity picks up

After several years of sluggish activity, M&A picked up significantly in 2018. The value of announced transactions rose 137% to $30 billion, driven by a flurry of activity in the gold sector, the on-going push by miners to optimise their portfolios, and momentum to acquire energy metals projects.

Rossouw comments further: "This renewed appetite for large transactions looks as though it will continue throughout 2019, with the deal value announced to 30 April 2019 already surpassing the value of all the announced deals in 2017.

Gold sector consolidating

The gold sector is experiencing a renewed round of consolidation, driven by a shrinking pipeline of projects, fewer new high-grade discoveries and a lack of funding for junior developments. Gold deals increased from 8% of total Top 40 deal value in 2017 to 25% in 2018, and this year are tracking at close to 95% of deals as at the end of April.

"Gold mining companies need to be rigorous and disciplined with prospective deals. With substantially all the value generated by mergers and acquisitions between 2005 and 2012 now lost, investors are still reeling from past transactions where purchasers overpaid for assets," Kotzé comments.

Govt Moves To Sanitize Mining Sector With Biometric Registration Of Miners

The latest government ambition to register all artisanal and small scale miners in Uganda has been looked at as a programme that will improve management of the mining sector, harmonize and formalize Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) activities in the country.  

Government last month with the help of Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy (ACEMP) and Action Aid Uganda launched the Biometric Registration of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (BRASSM) in Uganda at Royal Suites Hotel in Bugolobi.

The system will capture the biometric data of Ugandan artisanal miners who will be given identification numbers according to their mining zones. Foreign artisanal miners will not be registered, instead they will now have to apply for mining licenses just like foreign companies do. By doing this, the system will protect local artisanal miners from foreigners.

The Minister of State for Mineral Development Hon. Peter Lokeris while officiating at the launch of BRASSM revealed that over one million Ugandans directly or indirectly benefit from ASM operations despite being portrayed by its negative impacts. He explained that there is need to understand and address the structural challenges faced by artisanal miners in order to improve the sector’s opportunities.  

The Minister pointed out the challenges faced by the ASM sector as inadequate regulation, local politics, nomadic way of ASM operations, influx of foreigners, insecurity, environmental degradation, use of hazardous chemicals such as mercury and cyanide, lack of technical & financial capacity and lost revenue opportunities for government.

“These structural problem need to be addressed for ASM to contribute to social and economic development of the country,” the Minister told the congregation dominated by ASMs from across the country at the launch. BRASSM will address some of these challenges weeding out foreigners, access to financing and address issues of insecurity.

WHO WILL BE REGISTERED?

For miners to be registered, they must be adult Ugandans, registered under a mining association, living in a mining zone, with a national identity card (Ndagamuntu) and a practicing miner. No individual will be registered under BRASSM unless they are applying for mining licenses as a company.

Mr. Don Bwesigye Binyina, the Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy, the implementing agency, said the BRASSM project will enhance quality of life for miners so as to increase their contribution to Uganda’s sustainable development.

Mr. Zachary Baguma a commissioner at Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development said government wants to identify and know these miners so that they can be mobilized and enhance their capacities through trainings, financing and monitoring.

RESTRICTED MOVEMENT OF MINERS

The registration of miners will also restrict their movement. This means that if a miner is registered in Busia, he or she cannot relocate to Mubende. This, Mr. Baguma said is aimed at combating migrating miners. “If you are licensed in Mubende and not in Mityana, then you should not go to mine in Mityana,” Mr. Baguma said.

This however didn’t go down well with miners at the launch who said restricting their movements would limit their production. Mr. Mathias Aroba, a miner and treasury at Tiira Small Scale Miners association in Busia District said many people will not register with that kind of restriction. He advised that people who should be restricted are the dealers instead of miners.

But ACEMP’s Mr. Bwesigye said this kind of restriction will help government to track miners and collect taxes from them, help in addressing issues of conflict and security and to ensure that the resources benefit indigenous people or residents of that particular mining zone.

Mr. Baguma said that while official steps for anybody to change his registered BRASSM license, they will need to prove that they have not destroyed the environment in the place they have been working in. “Before you move, you must restore the mining holes. The place you are leaving behind must environmentally happy,” he said.

ARTISANAL MINING’S BIG POTENTIAL

Hon. Lokeris reiterated that the government recognizes the potential of ASM and what it can contribute to the local economic development if well regulated. He acknowledged that ASM can create jobs especially in rural areas, improve livelihoods and control rural-urban migration. Therefore to the ministry is implementing a Mineral Wealth and Mining Infrastructure Development Project that is aimed at development of an effective ASM Management Strategy to address ASM challenges.

Hon. Lokeris said together with ACEMP MEMD will map, register and come up with an effective management strategy for development of ASM sector. Under this collaboration both parties will improve ASM management strategy, undertake BRASSM by working with National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) and National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U).

They will develop mechanisms to regulate ASM movements, identify relevant stakeholders for ASM consultations, analyze and provide a baseline profile for ASM sector, develop a tool for monitoring, evaluation and improvement of ASM practices and develop a mechanism to control use of hazardous chemicals by ASM, among others.

Minerals-Rich Africa To Diversify For Economic Gains - IMF Report

Resource-dependent African economies must diversify if they are to increase the rate of economic growth, according to a report released by the International Monetary Fund.

The International Monetary Fund Regional Economic Outlook for Sub Saharan Africa unveiled earlier this week by Mira Clara, the organization's resident representative showed that although the continent's economic growth is on an upward trajectory, it varies considerably among countries.

It showed that recent and prospective growth performance is split between resource and non-resource-intensive countries. The more diversified economies, 21 out of 45 economies, continue to grow at over 5 percent while growth remains anaemic in more resource-dependent economies, which are home to more than half the population in sub-Saharan Africa, as reported by Xinhua.

Growth in resource-intensive countries was adversely impacted by the large 2014 terms-of-trade shock, which led to falling in commodity prices. The region's larger economies also registered slower growth, according to the Outlook.

In South Africa, lower private investment is contributing to slower growth with GDP growth expected to reach only 1.2 percent in 2019 while in Nigeria, the drop in oil prices and ongoing adjustment are expected to slow growth to 2.1 percent. In oil rich Angola, growth is projected at 0.4 percent in 2019.

According to Mira Clara, the African governments can take up several policy recommendations like facilitating greater private investments, raising productivity including promoting diversification and export competitiveness. Governments can also reduce non-tariff barriers and promote intra-regional trade.

Louis Kasekende, deputy governor of Uganda's central bank, Bank of Uganda said the Outlook presents both the good and bad sides. "Growth is strong in non-resource intensive countries. This means these countries have found other anchors for growth beyond mineral resources. Also, fiscal policies have been supportive of growth and stability especially in resource-poor countries," Kasekende opined, Xinhua noted.

"We need fiscal policy to remain prudent otherwise we risk reversing all the gains made. In addition, we have reduced conflicts in the region, providing a conducive environment for trade and other economic activities. Peace and stability must be preserved at all times and perhaps at all costs." Kasekende added.

SOURCE: Devdiscourse

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.”

Mineral Exploration, Production & Value Addition Key Focus In 2019

The Plan for Uganda participating in the Regional Certification Mechanism for Uganda has been developed for Uganda. The implementation of mineral certification mechanism is underway. This mechanism will enable Uganda trade its minerals at good prices.

President Yoweri Museveni has assented to a key law that will enable the certification of minerals dubbed as the conflict minerals. These are Tin, Tungsten, Tantalite and Gold (3Ts and G).

The presidential assent of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Bill (ICGLR Bill 2016) will enable Uganda participate in a regional certification mechanism to deal in the minerals. The Bill was passed by Parliament in May 2017 but has been waiting the ascent of Museveni.

A Regional Certification Mechanism (RCM) was developed in 2006 under the ICGLR to tackle the issue of conflict minerals. The RCM requires formalization of the artisanal and small scale miners to enable the tracking and certification of the minerals.

The Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (RINR) particularly aims at breaking the link between mineral revenues and rebel financing.

In July 2010 the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was voted by the American Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

Section 1502 of the act requires companies to disclose whether any of the products manufactured or contracted to be manufactured by the company contains conflict minerals that originate in the Democratic Republic of Congo or any of the 10 adjoining countries including Uganda. It made it difficult to trade in minerals that were not certified to be conflict free.

International regulations require that the 3T and G minerals are certified as conflict free to ensure that proceeds from their sale are not used to fund conflicts and human rights violations.

As part of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, which was signed by eleven regional Heads of States in Nairobi on December 15th 2006, the Protocol on the Fight against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources outlines the actions that Member States have to take.

 The main objective of the protocol was to ensure that minerals leaving the region complied with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines.

OECD (Paris based organisation with membership of developed nations) guidelines provide measures to curb irresponsible sourcing of conflict minerals by consumers in the developed world.

GEOLOGICAL SURVEYS IN UGANDA

The country’s geochemical coverage still remains at 35% while geophysical surveys are at 80%. Eight (8) mineralized areas were discovered against an annual target of 3 and 6 potential Uranium resources targets against an annual target of two (2) in order to stimulate investment in the mining sector.

Government commenced on Uranium exploration in Ndale, Fort Portal and Rusekere volcanic fields (Fort Portal west uranium anomaly) and Rare Earth Elements (REE) exploration at Makutu-Buwaya radiometric anomaly in Eastern Uganda.

Three Hundred Sixty Seven (367) samples were collected and analyzed. Geological studies have confirmed an area of 160km2 in Kibito, Fortportal for further follow-up and detailed studies to establish the Uranium potential in the area.

NEW MINERAL DISCOVERIES

Thirty percent (30%) of the current mineral map of Karamoja has been updated by carrying out ground geological and geochemical surveys. New mineral targets of tourmaline, gold, wolfram, tin, columbite-tantalite, beryl, zinc, cobalt, nickel and chromium and potential of black sands that host heavy metals such as magnetite, ilmenite and rutile have been discovered from geological mapping and geochemical surveys done.

More minerals are anticipated to be discovered after the planned airborne surveys have been carried out in the region followed by carrying out geological mapping, geochemical surveys and ground geophysical surveys.

 MINERAL EXPLORATION

Government is making follow up on mineral targets for mining and industrial development. The projects are being promoted for both public and private partnership (PPP). The projects include those of: i) iron ore; ii) nickel-platinum group metals (PGMs); iii) nickel-copper-lead; and iv) Busia gold bearing zone.

 Sukulu Phosphate and Steel Project: M/S Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group Co. Ltd is to develop the Sukulu phosphate resource into phosphates, steel, glass, cement and brick products.

The company has so far constructed buildings to house staff and workers plus putting in place an administration block and a dining hall. The company has also carried out geotechnical site investigations and established the type of soils where the plant is to be set up.

Earthworks and grading of the site are now underway and pre-fabricated plant machinery for the first phase has arrived in the country. All plants, including the steel mill, are expected to be in operation by December 2019.

So far, over 150 skilled Ugandan workers have been employed, and the number is expected to rise to over 1,000 by December 2019 when the plant is fully operational.

 IRON ORE DISCOVERIES

A follow-up on targets that were identified by airborne geophysical surveys. The ground geological and geochemical mapping that were conducted resulted into new discoveries of iron ore resources in Nyakarambi, Kitunga, Kashambya Kitojo, Kobutare, Katagata in Rukiga  District. The study has confirmed the Iron Ore Resources in the Rutenga Magnetic anomaly.

Government stopped all illegal mining activities in Mubende District and a Mineral Protection Police Unit was put in place to curb any further illegal mining in the country.

In line with the new mineral policy and mining legislation, the Ministry in collaboration with the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) will biometrically register all artisanal and small scale miners (ASMs) in the country.

MINING CADASTRE AND REGISTRY SYSTEM

The Sub-sector is upgrading its Mining Cadastre and Registry System (MCRS) to an e-government based mineral licensing system for a three-year period.

In preparation for the transition from a paper-based to an online system, the Subsector in collaboration with NITA-U is now hosting the cadaster system in the cloud, and is in the process of securing an MoU with URA to develop an online payment transaction portal.

 REVIEW OF THE MINING REGULATIONS, 2004

The Subsector is reviewing the Mining Regulations, 2004 to effect the transition to an online system. The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (the implementation of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region) Bill No.16 was assented. The ICGLR Act, 2017 is being implemented by the Ministry towards issuance of the first certificate for certified designated minerals from Uganda.

The Sub-sector has trained inspectors and developed inspection manual, inspection template, export procedure and is now developing regulations to enforce the Act. The Sub-sector monitored and inspected mining activities in the country to promote the application of environmentally friendly technologies and methods in mineral exploitation, and ensure adherence to health and safety regulations.

MINERAL RIGHTS (LICENCES)

A total of 716 Mineral Rights (licences) were issued to promote mining investment. The Ministry also provided extension services and carried out awareness campaigns targeting small-scale miners through their associations so as to legalize their operations.

Geo-scientific data management: The Sub-sector acquired and managed geo-scientific data for strategic minerals i.e. uranium, gold, base metals, iron ore and wolfram.

The Sub-sector monitored earthquakes using its installed Uganda seismic network to acquire data useful in monitoring of earthquake hazards. Geo-hazards investigation surveys for ground failures and landslides were conducted in Mt Elgon area.

MINERAL LABORATORIES

The Sub-sector is up-grading the mineral laboratories to become the main analytical and beneficiation centre. Equipment and consumables for the laboratories have been procured and maintenance carried out. The up-graded laboratory will provide a capacity to analyze materials for geological, hydrological and environmental studies.

Emulate Dangote’s Investment Drive, Says Former Ethiopian Prime Minister

Former Ethiopia Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn has described as exceptional and enormous the investment of the Dangote Group in Africa's oil refining sector and urged other private sector investors to take a cue from the group’s investment drive.

Speaking during the tour of Dangote Jetty, Fertiliser and Refinery Plant, Desalegn said the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has enormous influence in the sector and that his involvement in the general economic wellbeing of the whole of Africa is unquantifiable.

He therefore encouraged other investors to consider the strategic nature of investments made by the conglomerate and emulate them in order to enhance the value of the continent’s economy: "I think this is a lesson for other African investors to take risk and bring about big change. A mega project of this magnitude, actually needs dedication and commitment, as well as sacrifice."

He insisted that Africa needs massive investment like the Dangote Refinery for economic development.

According to him, investors in the continent must recognize that investment in essential sector would remain critical to sustainable economic growth. “I think this project is not only for Nigeria, but for the entire African countries”, he added.

Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development & Capital Projects, Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, said the project would provide 135,000 retail outlets, 26,716 filling stations and 129 depots in Nigeria, while the 2,600 trucks for transport will create additional jobs.

Another invaluable area of interest the project will enhance is in the area of skill development and capacity building for Nigerian. Already, Mr. Edwin said training of second batch of Nigerian Engineers has started in Delhi India.

He said, “we are sending all engineers abroad in batches. They will engage in classroom training for one month and on the job training of one year. They will be working with real time experts in the industry every day.”

 Edwin disclosed that the company’s target is for a significant portion of Nigeria’s crude oil production to be refined domestically, rather than imported, thereby creating jobs within Nigeria, and bringing a halt to the current importation of refined petroleum product.

Edwin said the refinery is going to provide over 100,000 indirect employment through retail outlets. He said the refinery is designed to meet Euro V grade, which is the highest standard in the world, hence products can be exported to any part of the world.

“It will be well diversified and able to process Nigerian crude, African crude and crude from other parts of the world. In terms of evacuation routes, two crude oil single point mooring (SPM) buoys and three multi-product SPMs will be located within the Atlantic Ocean to transfer crude oil to a calling tanker.

Edwin said the company was also constructing the largest fertiliser plant in West Africa with the capacity to produce three million tonnes of urea per year.

Dangote Fertilizer Complex, consisting of Ammonia and Urea plants, is conceived to be one of the world's largest fertilizer plants with a total capacity of 3 Million Tonnes per Annum of Urea fertilizer. Therefore, the Dangote Fertilizer is positioned to bridge the gap between local demand and national capacity. Dangote Fertilizer Plants will produce Urea that will assist farmers boost their crop yields through easy access to fertilizer,” he added.

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