Govt gives 30,000 miners two months to vacate Kisiita site

Some of the illegal artisanal gold miners at Kisiita site in Kassanda District in March last year. PHOTO/BARBRA NALWEYISO

What you need to know:

  • Government says the miners had earlier been told to leave voluntary but failed to comply, forcing President Museveni to issue another directive.

More than 30,000 artisanal gold miners at Kisiita gold mining site in Kassanda District are pondering their next move after government gave them up to November to voluntarily vacate the site or face forceful eviction.

Artisanal mining involves the use of rudimentary tools such as hoes, spades, shovels, and axes.

Mr Peter Lokeris, the State Minister of Mineral Development, yesterday said the planned eviction is aimed at organising  and streamlining the sector.

“What is being done is in line with  what the President directed the ministry to do. All artisanal and illegal miners are being sensitised and given opportunity to voluntarily vacate the area to avoid further depletion of the sector ,”  Mr Lokeris said.

He said the miners had earlier been sensitised about the voluntary vacation, but failed to comply, forcing President Museveni to issue another directive in May.

However, Mr Rahim Mukasa Kayondo, the chairperson of Kitumbi Small Scale and Artisanal Miner’s Association, opposed the move, saying they are shareholders in the company that was legally licensed to carry out gold mining in the area.

“They [government] cannot say that we are illegal, we are stakeholders of Kisiita Mining Company though it had managerial issues which are being blown out of portion by some interested parties and misleading the President,” he said.

Mr Zimula Kasirye, the district chairperson, said the district has not been collecting revenue since the miners have been dodging taxes.

“The district is not benefiting from gold mining . Whenever we approach the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development for our share of revenue, the ministry claims miners don’t pay taxes since they are not licensed,” he said.  

Mr Kasirye said the district could have earned Shs3 trillion in revenue if the artisanal miners were paying taxes.
Ms Phoebe Namulindwa, the Resident District Commissioner, said the move is aimed at permitting the government to handover the mines to the company expected to operate it. 

Ms Namulindwa said the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development licensed Kisiita Mining Company to operate the mines.

“The company has failed to take over the mines due to various wrangles with other companies also claiming to own mining rights in the same area. So, we are under instructions from the President to evict all the people from the mining site.

Mr Vincent Ssendijja, a dealer at the mines, said several artisanal miners have started vacating the mines while others are still adamant. 

“Many people have vacated the gold mines, with some joining Lubaali gold mine. However, it is not productive like Kisiita. Others  still go to Kisiita gold mine fearing that they might be arrested or beaten by police,” Mr Ssendijja said.
Kassanda has four gold mines in Kitumbi and Kalwana Sub-counties that have witnessed emergence of small townships populated by labourers and traders seeking to eke out a living at the mines and from auxiliary businesses.


The affected miners are part of the 60,000 who were forcefully evicted from eight mining sites in Bukuya and Kitumbi sub-counties. In 2018, police and Uganda People’s Defence Forces were deployed in gold mining sites in the district and demolished all the makeshift structures that were being used by artisanal miners. Government accused the miners of failing to pay taxes,  prompting the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to start licensing companies and individuals.  However, artisanal miners have continued to illegally operate in the area.