Government set to revive copper mining industry in Kasese

Thursday October 29 2020
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Hopeful. State minister for Mineral Development Sarah Opendi (left) with her technical team inspect one of the drilled areas in Kasese on Monday. Photo | Enid Ninsiima

By Enid Ninsiima
By Felix Basiime

Government is set to revive the copper mining industry in Kasese District after 35 years of inactivity.

The proposed revival of the Kilembe copper mining industry follows the recent global proliferation of electric vehicles that have sparked off fresh exploration for copper, nickel and cobalt minerals in Uganda.

“Our company has interest even in Kilembe area as there is a high demand for copper because of the recent world move to electric cable cars,” Dr Jennifer Hinton, the country head of Jervois Mining Limited, said.

Adding: “But collecting soil samples is not a cheap venture. About 99.9 per cent of the soil samples collected may have nothing in it after testing, the reason we keep trying.”  

The State minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Ms Sarah Opendi, who visited Kasese on Tuesday, is hopeful that mining will resume soon.

“We (government) are happy with what Jervois Mining Limited is doing on the ground. It has followed all the guidelines given to them. We pray that the exploration prospects turn positive so that mining starts since Kasese is endowed with so many minerals,” Ms Opendi said.

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She also prayed that Jervois Mining Ltd takes up the contract to revamp Kilembe copper mines once the government opens bids before this year ends, adding that the company has shown its competence. 

Jervois Mining Ltd also operates in DR Congo, Brazil, USA and America, Uganda, South Africa among other countries.
Copper mining at Kilembe was stopped in the late 1970s due to the civil wars in Uganda coupled with the fall in copper prices on the world market. However, Kasese Cobalt Company Ltd still operates.

Dr Hinton revealed that 25, 000 soil samples have been collected from Kitabu and Bwera sub-counties and sent for laboratory testing in South Africa with the hope that the results are positive for copper.

“We also have an interest in revamping Kilembe Copper Mines if it can be given to us. We used to employ over 200 people but due to Covid-19, we reduced them to 20 who currently stay in a hotel and have been drilling for two months,” Dr Hinton said.

Cabinet met on January 14, 2019, at State House Entebbe and among other issues, resolved to revamp the mining sector in Uganda. 
The government will do this through a policy framework as approved in the “Principles for the Mining and Minerals Bill, 2019”.

These include; strengthening the legal and regulatory framework for the licensing and development of the Mineral Sector; to ensure efficient, equitable, accountable and transparent management of mineral revenues; to establish, manage and promote the country’s mineral potential and to enhance and strengthen institutional capacity for effective governance of the mineral sector.

Other objectives as approved on the same day by Cabinet include; organising and legislating artisanal and small scale mining in Uganda, to promote and protect the health, safety and the environment in the mineral industry, to provide a framework for marketing and value addition of minerals and to promote local content and national participation in the mineral industry.

Background
Kilembe mines

Kilembe mines is located in Kilembe, a suburb of Kasese Town at the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains in the Western region.

Kilembe Copper Mines Limited is the largest copper mine in the country and covers more than 128 square miles of land but much of this land is currently being encroached on by the surrounding community due to land pressure.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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