President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni speaking at this year’s State of the Nation address, which was also the second sitting of the first session of the 10th parliament, at Serena Hotel Kampala, revealed that government will build a cement factory and gold refinery in Karamoja sub region to add value to the minerals in the area.
He said countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Congo, South Sudan export unpurified gold for which US$970 per ounce is earned yet more money can be got if the mineral is purified before export. The president revealed that an ounce of purified pure gold goes for US$ 1,212 when exported.
Karamoja sub region, located in north eastern Uganda, alongside most parts of eastern Uganda (Mbale, Busia, Bugiri, Namayingo) have scattered deposits of gold and other commercially viable minerals that are yet to be fully extracted. The little gold from that part of the country is produced through artisanal means by local people.
“Therefore, the artisanal mining needs to be monitored and guided so that they do not become part of the haemorrhage,” the president said in his speech. He said these artisanal miners should be regulated and what they are harvesting should be known and recorded.
“At the same time, three things should be happening. One, exploration by licensed people should continue. Nobody should stop properly equipped scientific exploration to continue,” he added.
A gold refinery, as the president has promised will go a long way in elevating the value of gold mined in the region. President Museveni said ‘our gold should make fine jewellery and create jobs for our people.’
Karamoja, a dominantly pastoral region, turns to gold to earn a living. The artisanal mining is mainly conducted by women and children using rudimentary methods and tools. It has health implication to the miners which must also be addressed. The promise by the music comes as good music to the people of Karamoja.