What you need to know:
- Mr Akorebirungi says he has been involved in the activity for the last three months and earns Shs150,000 per week from selling the mineral to Kamuntu Investments Uganda Ltd.
M r Joshua Akorebirungi,19, who completed his Primary Seven examinations this year is among thousands of youth eking a living from artisanal mining of iron ore in Kabale District.
Mr Akorebirungi says he has been involved in the activity for the last three months and earns Shs150,000 per week from selling the mineral to Kamuntu Investments Uganda Ltd.
“I hope that by the time schools open in January next year, I will have enough money to pay for my school fees and the surplus for my pocket money,” Mr Akorebirungi says.
Mr Laban Mubangizi, 25, another artisanal miner, says he has been able to construct a house and buy land since he joined the business five years ago.
The Kamuntu Investments manager, Mr Bruno Byereta, says they employ about 3,000 artisanal miners that are paid between Shs150,000 and Shs500,000 per week.
He said mining in Kigezi Sub-region region started this year with less than 400 people involved but because it is a lucrative venture, thousands have joined.
“We employ a total of 3,000 artisanal miners in our six mining sites in Kabale and Rubanda districts. Some are miners, while others are employed to load the iron ore minerals on our trucks before it is transported to the different steel rolling mills in Uganda,” Mr Byetera says.
He adds that mining has economically empowered the community.
However, Mr Byereta says bad weather and poor roads, among other challenges, have hindered their work.
Miners demand factories
Last week, several members of the Shadow Cabinet led by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga and the Shadow Attorney General, Mr Wilfred Nuwagaba, visited the miners in Kamuganguzi Sub-county in Kabale. The legislators told the miners about the proposed law on licensing all artisanal miners in the country. However, the miners rejected the proposal and instead urged the government to help them to expedite plans of establishing an iron ore processing factory in Kigezi. “Once iron ore factories are established, many people shall be employed thus solving unemployment. Imposing strict measures such as the planned law to have all artisanal miners obtain licences from the government will lead to unemployment thus making the local miners beggars that cannot sustain their families,” Mr Michael Mbareba, a miner, said. Mr Mpuuga promised to table their requests before Parliament.