Govt courting West for mining, energy deals   

Government says many companies from the US have expressed interest in investing in Uganda’s minerals and energy sector. Photo | File 

What you need to know:

According to Energy and Minerals Minister Ruth Nankabirwa, US energy companies have expressed interest to invest in the country’s minerals and energy sector 

Uganda is turning to the West, specifically the Americans, to invest in its energy and mining sectors, a move that seeks to tap into the growing global demand of green energy minerals to address clean energy needs. 

Energy and Minerals Minister Ruth Nankabirwa, said US energy companies have expressed interest to invest in the country’s minerals and energy sector.  

Speaking on the sidelines of the two- day 11th Annual Mineral Wealth Conference themed, ‘Positioning Uganda’s Mineral Sector for the Green Energy Revolution, Ms Nankabirwa, without going into details, said “many” companies were interested. 

Uganda has in the last years made tremendous progress in charming investments into exploration of green energy minerals such as rare earth elements, graphite, copper, cobalt, lithium, and nickel.  

However, the country’s large chunk of foreign investment into the two sectors is still largely from South Africa, China and Australia. 

Ms Nankabirwa said in the last one month government has courted American energy companies for opportunities, after her recent trip to the US, and an immediate visit to the American ambassador, Natalie. Brown upon her return in Uganda. 

A Tweet from the American Embassy read that the meeting was for,“ the critical importance of promoting public and private investment in the energy and mining sectors to foster sustained economic growth and development.” 

Ms Nankabirwa led a Ugandan delegation to represent President Museveni at the Houston-Africa Energy Summit held in Houston between September 22 and 23. 

The Summit, hosted by the Mayor of Houston Mr Sylvester Turner, was attended by key energy ministers from Africa, which included panel discussions between Africa’s energy ministers and Houston’s leading energy companies such as Chevron, Kosmos Energy, Halliburton, Vaalco Energy, Shell and ExxonMobil, to bring tangible energy investments to Africa.  

Ms Nankabirwa, while at the summit, urged US energy companies to provide affordable financing for energy projects such as dams, refinery and oil pipelines and investment in new oil blocks. 

The two- day Mineral Wealth Conference that climaxed yesterday brought together investors and policy makers in the mineral sector to discuss opportunities in green energy minerals. 

Mr Warren Tregurtha, the Rwenzori Rare Metals chief executive, said market forecasters believe the global demand for rare earth minerals to develop green tech solutions, is projected to grow from $5.72b to $8.88b by 2025, noting that governments across the globe are setting bold targets to cut emissions and increase renewable energy installations. 

Such ambitious targets will need the supply of critical raw materials crucial for green technologies such as wind turbines and electric vehicles. 

Mr Tregurtha said his company has so far invested $12m in developing the Makuutu project in the Busoga sub-region to extract rare earth minerals, with a further capital investment of $150m likely to be required for pre-production.

“The plan is to commence with modular low- cost production. There will be a mixture of funding that will need to be raised through various institutional investors and financial instruments,”  Tregurtha said. 

Ongoing projects

Already Blencowe Resources, a London Stock Exchange listed company acquired the Orom- Cross Graphite project in April, 2020 in Orom district. 

The company has heavily invested in processing deposits of graphite, estimated at 3.4 billion tonnes to tap into the green energy revolution. 

Blencowe acquired mineral extraction rights after a 100 percent acquisition of its Ugandan owned subsidiary- Consolidated Resources Uganda. 

“We expect to invest $6-8m in the processing plant, facilities, and power. By 2025, we should be in full production,” Nabil Alam, Blencowe’s country manager said.