Namanve- Roofings Rolling Mills has asked the government to grant it a licence to enable it venture into iron ore mining as it seeks to cut down on the import bill of the raw materials used in steel manufacturing.
Roofings Group chairman Sikander Lalani said a mining licence will enable the steel manufacturer to produce sponge iron for use in its factory and also supply other steel manufacturers in the East Africa region, whose demand is more than a million tonnes annually.
Mr Lalani, who was speaking at the launch of the Shs320 billion Namanve Industrial Park-based plant on Wednesday, said using local raw materials will not only lower the factory’s production costs but also save the country billions of shillings that fly out annually to import raw materials.
Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said despite having huge iron ore reserves in the south western and north eastern parts of the country that could help grow the steel manufacturing industry in Uganda, they remain unexplored due to several challenges, including poor infrastructure.
Most steel manufacturers in Uganda mainly depend on steel scrap imports, which are not strong enough for use in the construction of big projects like dams and tall buildings. In addition, steel scrap volumes are also said to be dwindling.
Ms Kyambadde, however, decried the low per capita consumption of steel products in Uganda, which she said stands at 25kg compared to the United States of America’s 800kg and Japan’s 700kg.
Uganda’s steel industry has, however, grown to about 11 steel mills currently, up from three about a decade ago.
Roofings Rolling Mills, which is said to be the largest steel manufacturer in East Africa, is expected to create jobs for about 1,500 people, according to the firm’s executive director, Mr Oliver Lalani. Its tax contribution is expected to be about Shs252.3 billion ($100 million) after reaching full capacity.
IRON ORE STATISTICS
Production: A government report on iron ore indicates that production in 2009, the country produced 971.95 tonnes, down from to 3,794.74 tonnes in 2010. The country then mined 2,133.82 tonnes in 2011, down from 3,315.95 tonnes in 2012.