President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda has welcomed the establishment of a $15m gold refinery, African Gold Refinery, in Entebbe saying it will save the country millions of dollars it has been losing by exporting unprocessed gold. He added that Uganda will not only earn and save more money but will also create jobs for the youth.
“We have been losing a lot of money by exporting unprocessed gold. When you export unrefined gold, you will be losing about $800, 000 per tonne of gold. We are not only losing money but jobs too. We are exporting jobs,” President Museveni said shortly after officially opening African Gold Refinery. He welcomed the Belgium investors saying their investment is in line with the country’s economic transformation agenda.
The Chief Executive Officer of African Gold Refinery Allain Goaetz said that they were convinced to come and set up the refinery in Uganda because of its peace and secure environment which is good for investment. African Gold Refinery which sits on 5.5 acres of land in Entebbe, a few meters away from the country’s only international airport, is bankrolled by investors from Belgium. It is the only refinery in Sub Sahara Africa.
Goetz said the biggest challenge in the gold business is smuggling which breeds bad competition and criminal elements like terrorism. He said gold will be gathered from across the East African region and neighboring regions. The refinery, which was established in 2014, has capacity to output 300kg of pure gold a week, and a tonne a month.
The first high-capacity gold refinery in Sub-Saharan Africa according to chairman African Gold Refinery, retired politician Richard Kaijuka, is expected to play a major role in Uganda’s growing mining industry. Kaijuka said refining gold and other minerals in Uganda will guarantee more foreign exchange for the country. African Gold Refinery has the capacity to process raw gold to pure gold of 99.99%.
The energy minister Irene Muloni said government is focused on servicing the mining industry and aspires for value addition to all minerals in the country. “Refining minerals will expand the economy by expanding exports,” she said, adding that gold exports will surpass coffee as the nation’s leading exported commodity.
Last year, Kaijuka said Uganda recorded $300m worth of gold exports that was value added, which he says was not by accidents but planned and strategic investment. Kaijuka demanded for more mining incentives.
Apart from the refinery, the $15m investment also houses a Geochemical Laboratory for assaying any mineral samples from the Ugandan and regional mining industry with certified analysis.