There is a big chance that hundreds of artisanal miners across the country will be evicted from their respective mining camps by government if they don’t formalize their operations by creating associations or working groups.
The minster for energy and mineral development, Irene Muloni, said at the ministry’s Joint Sector Review meeting being at Speke Resort Munyonyo that they won’t work with miners who are illegal and disorganized.
On 4th August, 2017, government deployed Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) and Police officers who evicted gold miners in Mubende. This time the ministry is engaging miners in Namayingo, Buhweju, Karamoja and other places.
Going by examples of places named, it looks like gold miners are targeted.
“You recognize that minerals are a wealth in this country. It belongs to all of us. We want to tap into these minerals and generate revenue for the country and improve our lives,” the minister said.
“We want to mine these minerals and add value. Gold occurs widely in this country. We want our ordinary Ugandans to participate in mining in a way that is legal so that we can track gold produced and how much revenue we can get,”
“These miners are not licensed and are using crude methods including using mercury and cyanide. They dig pits without caring about their lives. We are going to sensitize them about safety methods of mining that are not harmful to them and environment,”
The minister who spoke at this year’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Joint Sector Review welcomed artisanal miners and small-scale miners to organize themselves so that they are given location license.
The minister revealed that the investor manning the Mubende gold mines offered 10sqkms to artisanal miners. The land is going to be demarcated and allocated to three miners associations out of the five who were formed during the time they were being told to vacate and relocate.
Muloni said evicting Mubende miners was necessary because of the dangers these miners had exposed themselves to. “We also had foreigners mining Ugandan resources,” she said. At least 172 foreigners, according to the minister, were operating in Mubende.
One of the issues that come up during engagements between government and artisanal miners is miners lack money to invest in technology required. However the minister said they will try to build their capacities once they form association.
Uganda is home to over 50 minerals however only eight percent of the country has been surveyed. The other twenty percent, which is largely the Karamoja region, was not surveyed because of security reasons.
The private sector during the recently held Mineral Wealth Conference organized by Uganda Chamber of Miners and Petroleum asked the finance minister Matia Kasaija to avail USD20m so that Karamoja is surveyed.
Kasaija asked them to put their request in writing so that it can be considered in the subsequent budgets.
Every year, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and industry stakeholders meet to review and assess the ministry’s overall performance and progress of planned undertakings in the previous financial year.