Gold diggers set to vacate Kisita mines in Kassanda

Miners walk to the gold pits. Members of Kitumbi Small-scale and Artisanal Miners’ Association are set to vacate the Kisita gold mines in Mbiriizi Sub-county, Kassanda District. Photo | Barbra Nalweyiso

What you need to know:

  • The gold mines will now be taken over by Horizon Energy Ltd, industrialist Amos Nzeyi and other shareholders, who include banker Abbas Mawanda, former MP Muyanja Mbabali, the Maviri Family and USU Group under Kisita Mining Company.

Members of Kitumbi Small-scale and Artisanal Miners’ Association are set to vacate the Kisita gold mines in Mbiriizi Sub-county, Kassanda District.
 
The gold mines will now be taken over by Horizon Energy Ltd, industrialist Amos Nzeyi and other shareholders, who include banker Abbas Mawanda, former MP Muyanja Mbabali, the Maviri Family and USU Group under Kisita Mining Company.

The miners’ association chairperson, Mr Rahim Mukasa Kayondo, said they agreed to vacate the mines in order to limit losses that would result from their forceful eviction. President Museveni in May gave the miners six months to voluntarily vacate the place or be forcefully evicted. The deadline ends on Wednesday.

Mr Museveni’s directive followed complaints from the United Arab Emirates-based investor, Rashid al-Suwaidi of Horizon Energy Ltd that the artisan miners were disturbing his operations in the area. 

Following the complaints, at least 30,000 artisanal and small-scale gold miners, pit owners, processors, and dealers in Kassanda District were evicted from the Kisiita gold mines.

But the leaders of the small-scale and artisanal miners protested their eviction, claiming they were shareholders in the company and were operating in the area to protect their interests. 

The Kisita Mining Company are licensed to carry out prospecting, exploration, and mining of gold in an area covering more than 8.716 square kilometres, with a lease of 21 years.

Uganda police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the Police Mineral Protection Unit has set up a detachment at Kisita Mines to enforce compliance.
 
“We are consistently keeping illegal miners off the site, ensuring no violence at the site and overseeing the removal of gold processing tanks belonging to the illegal miners,’’ Mr Enanga said.

“With only a few remaining days left to the deadline, we want to thank all the stakeholders, especially the Kitumbi Artisanal Miners Association, for prevailing over their pit miners and ensuring they left the mining site peacefully,” he said.

The miners, who hope to handover the mining site to Kisita mining company on Wednesday, are being issued with clearance certificates.

Mr Enanga said the amicable resolution followed several meetings with the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines, the Uganda Revenue Authority, environment agency Nema, Operation Wealth Creation, and the Police Mineral Protection Unit. 

Mr Kayondo said they have opened up engagements with the Energy and Mineral Development ministry, and shareholders of Kisita Mining Company to push for their five percent shareholding in the company.

The miners said their push for a portion of the mining area and lease was also used to settle conflicts between Gertrude Njuba’s AUC Mining Company and more than 60,000 artisanal miners, who suffered a brutal eviction from eight mining sites in Bukuya and Kitumbi sub-counties in Kassanda District.

In Ms Njuba’s case, the artisanal miners had no shareholding rights in the company, but were given 30 percent of the exploration area, covering 282.9sq kilometres and have resumed work in the area.

Mr Vicent Ssendijja, a dealer in gold, said even before the deadline expires, there is already heavy deployment of the UPDF who have barred the miners from Kisita mining site.

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