While Uganda’s gold reserves have increased tremendously, the Ministry Of Energy and Minerals Development is focused on bringing order to the sector artisanal mining.
Government says there will be need to regulate building (development) minerals such as clay, murram, sand or any stone commonly used for building which were excluded from the definition of minerals in Article 244 (5) of the Constitution.
This was disclosed by the Director of the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines, Edwards Katto, while giving a synopsis of the mineral sector potential at the ongoing Mineral Wealth Conference in Kampala.
“We need to encourage optimization of the fiscal benefits from mining, promotion of local content and value addition as well as management and regulation of artisanal and small scale mining activities,” notes Katto.
The conference is organized by Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum under the theme “Minerals: Knocking on the door to cause economic transformation in Uganda.
The conference also intends to build on the successes of the past five years among them the gains made on the previously prohibitive tax regime which was a major deterrent to mining investments in Uganda.
“We have not been listening to our minerals ‘knocking on our door’; asking to be exploited so as to make us wealthy. By choosing this theme “Minerals: Knocking on the door to cause economic transformation in Uganda” we at the UCMP are again asking everyone to listen to this knock and do all that is necessary to gainfully exploit these natural riches so that Uganda can develop,” said Dr Elly Karuhanga, the Chairman, UCMP. Karuhanga also believes that the time is ripe for Ugandans to position themselves to supply the products and services needed for the industry.
Meanwhile, government has created a mining police unit to enable law and order in the mining sector and deal with disorganized artisanal miners.
Proudly parading about two-dozen mining police officers who were in attendance, Katto said the mining police’s first significant role was the recent mass eviction of artisanal miners in Mubende gold fields.
Government also insists artisanal mining has been ring-fenced for nationals and not foreigners and warned that any foreigner who engages in artisanal mining, or violates mining laws and regulations would be deported.