Uganda is blessed with numerous mineral resources but has not made a giant step towards fully exploiting the natural gifts. At the moment only artisanal miners are largely trying to exploit the vast resources however President Yoweri Museveni believes these locals must be regulated and coordinated.
The President was speaking during the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday at Serena Hotel in Kampala. He illustrated that unregulated and illegal artisanal mining will block great opportunities that would have led to industrial mining, processing and refining which bring in much more money, transfer of technology and create more jobs.
The President is of the view that artisanal mining, exploration, industrial mining and processing as well as refining must be harmonized and live together. “The artisanal miners should, therefore, get organized so that we can assist them to make jewellery from our gold. However, you cannot make jewellery unless you purify the gold which takes us back to the issue of the Gold Refinery,” he said.
The president scorned at the continued trade of raw minerals yet more money can be made from the minerals if value is added to them through processing and refining. He says that adding value to these minerals can also generate jobs for people and fight unemployment. He advised that artisanal miners need to be monitored and guided so that they do not become a problem.
At the moment, a few value addition projects are ongoing including a Chinese company in Sukuru hills, near Tororo, working on producing phosphate fertilizers, sulphuric acid and steel. That facility, once fully developed, will generate annual income of the magnitude of US$306 million and create 1,800 jobs.
The president promised that similar operations will be done at Kilembe, Butogota in Kanungu, Muko in Kabale, Namekhera in Bugisu.
The president now wants scientific exploration by licensed people to continue, a functioning and fully quipped laboratory at the Minerals Department that should conclusively analyse samples so as to determine the exact content of the minerals and presence of capable large scale investors that they directly mine and process as well as buying from the regulated and licensed artisanal miners.