Mining firm breathes new life into Kitaka gold deposits

Simba Group of Companies Chairman Patrick Bitatuure (C), Eng. John Byabagambi and Chinese business partners at the opening of Kitaka Gold Mine in Ibanda on Friday. PHOTO BY ALFRED TUMUSHABE

IBANDA- Simba Mining Company has reopened the Kitaka Gold mine that has been dormant for more than 50 years in addition to exploring more areas in Ibanda and Kamwenge Districts for possible gold deposits in partnership with Chinese.

After a year of preparations, the company, together with Chinese nationals, on Friday, re-opened the mine located in Kitaka cell Buhanda in the dense Kasyoha-Kitomi forest reserve in Ibanda District.

State Minister for Works John Byabagambi commissioned two ridges mining gold in the area and asked the Chinese to cooperate with the local people.

“In the past, the Chinese never wanted to work with the local people. But now they work together. They train them how to operate machines. The working relationship has improved,” Eng Byabagambi said.

More than 100 people have secured jobs directly since the company opened the site and begun the elementary gold search in 2012.
The Chinese had an uphill task of flushing out numerous deadly snakes and bats that had for decades, turned the underground site into their dwelling. The site was at one time teeming with marbug viruses which were hosted by the bats.

“This gold has been lying here ever since this area was created. It’s not easy to invest money here since the risks involved are very high. This mine should benefit everyone,” Eng. Byabagambi said.

Simba Group of Companies chairman Patrick Bitatuure said they partnered with Chinese because of their technology.

“Without technology you can not do much in mining. They are training our youth here,” he said.

The mine was operated by colonialists who left when Uganda got independence. It has been lying idle. Mr Bitature said so far “the findings are good.” He said in gold mining business, “it is okay” when four grams of gold are realised from each tonne of excavated gravel. “We have been getting between 14-15 grams per tonne,” Mr Bitatuure said.

Currently, they take gold to laboratories in China and South Africa for further processing which is very expensive.

Mr Bitatuure said they plan to establish a laboratory in Entebbe and build a proper gold refinery in the country.

The mine is located in a forest reserve, meaning that some trees must be cleared in the process of identifying it.

Their licence allows them to prospect for gold in 40 square kilometres. However, Mr Bitatuure said for every tree cut, they shall plant 40 more.