Thursday October 2 2014

Owners will lose rights over mineral-rich land - Museveni

President Museveni joins participants during

President Museveni joins participants during the mineral wealth conference to take a group photo in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO by STEPHEN WANDERA 

By NELSON WESONGA

Kampala. President Museveni has said the government will change the law to allow intending investors in the mining industry to access private land that contains minerals without negotiating with the land owners.
President Museveni said this during a conference on mineral wealth in Kampala yesterday. He said Cabinet would push for the amendment of the Mining Act 2001 so that investors negotiate directly with the government for access to the land where they intend to carry out mineral extraction.
“The people who have to give you consent are the people who own the minerals, and that is the government. The other man [landowner] has no consent to give because the property is not his,” said President Museveni.
Currently, investors seeking to do mining business have to obtain consent of the private owners of the land where mineral deposits exist.
“The mistake has been to make the investors deal with the landowners, they should deal with the government; and then the government will deal with the landowners. You just tell those villagers to get out. You cannot stop the State from accessing its assets. We shall sort it out, we shall amend the Act. In fact, the Constitutional Court should say that Act is unconstitutional,” he added.
His remarks come against a backdrop of stalemates between some landowners and private investors, with the former refusing to rent out their land for diverse reasons.
The President also reiterated his 2012 stand on the ban of exportation of iron ore.
He said Uganda needs the iron ore to support its local steel industry.
He said by exporting iron ore, Uganda has to import steel for construction of hydroelectricity projects, which reduces employment opportunities for Ugandans and increases the construction costs on electricity projects.
Mr Museveni also said the government would consider subsidising private entrepreneurs who invest in electricity generating projects by giving them money to pay interest on borrowed loans.
He said this is intended to prevent increasing of power tariffs due to the high costs the investors might have incurred during construction of the power plants.
“If you do not solve the problem of electricity, the railways, no jobs will be created and very soon you will have the Arab Spring. We cannot afford high electricity prices, especially for manufacturing. For the discotheques, I do not mind [them paying higher electricity tariffs],” said Mr Museveni.

The act
Section 42 of the Mining Act provides that before the government issues a mining licence, the prospective mineral (s) exploration company or individual should obtain the surface rights over the land by agreeing with the landowner to granting the investor access to the land.

nwesonga@ug.nationmedia.com

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