The country may not benefit much from gold mining unless government enforces sanity in the sector, local miners have said.
Gold mining, according to the players, which government has prioritised as one of the sectors to transform mining, has been infiltrated by actors that are not willing to “play by the rules,” which has rendered some industry activities illegal and dangerous.
This, coupled with systematic government bottlenecks and institutional underfunding, according to artisanal miners, has rendered the sector to be under capture by a combination of state-affiliated institutions and powerful individuals with political connections.
“Uganda’s mining sector continues to underperform despite having immense potential to contribute significantly to the resource basket,” Mr Don Bwesigye Binyina, the executive director at Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy, said.
Uganda, he added, is endowed with favourable geological conditions associated with a rich and diverse mineral resource but the sector is severely underutilised to poor laws and governance.
Geological studies show that 300 million tonnes of limestone deposits are estimated to be in Karamoja region while more than six million tonnes of copper have been located in Kilembe.
Also, he said, surveys have shown that the country has 7.3 million ounces of gold deposits in West Nile and some western parts of the country, 22 million tonnes of salt at Katwe in Kasese while 321 metric tonnes of iron ore have been located in western and eastern Uganda.
Mr John Bosco Bukya, the chairperson, Uganda Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, said a small group of people is expanding their grip on the sector and have in the process undermined the role of the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines.
“If we are to have sanity, organised small artisanal miners should be legalised and their operational areas marked up and licenced as native miners. In this way, we expect government to benefit through taxation and improve the income and livelihood of these people,” he said.