Open letter to President on Kisita mining co.

What you need to know:

Kisita Mining Co. Ltd has a mining lease in Mubende District, 140 km west of Kampala. In 2016, operations were halted as the shareholders had disagreements which they took to court

Your Excellency, we appeal to you since the meeting you tasked your office to set up with Horizon Energy LLC, a majority shareholder in Kisita Mining Co. whose representatives you met with in the UAE on January 16, 2023, has never been organized.

Subsequently, we had communications with Your Excellency’s office regarding the meeting you directed to take place by the end of February 2023. Those communications have since inexplicably gone silent. We gather the meeting is being frustrated by individuals who would rather you don’t get the true picture of what is transpiring.

Kisita Mining Co. Ltd has a mining lease in Mubende District, 140 km west of Kampala. In 2016, operations were halted as the shareholders had disagreements which they took to court.

In the ensuing months, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) charged the company with Shs1.3 billion in unpaid VAT tax and took charge of the mine. At the same time, illegal mining ensued.

Around January 11,. 2018, the Police Mineral Protection Unit (PMPU) took charge of the mine to stop the illegal mining operations.

Surprisingly, illegal mining continued unabated with both URA and PMPU at the mine. In September of 2018, the Commercial High Court issued an Order to allow the mine to restart operations. This Order was frustrated by the PMPU and the illegal miners to allow illegal mining to continue.

On January 16, 2020, the Court issued another Order for “Mr. Mustafa Semih Gecgil and Mr. Ismail Mawanda shall assume joint management of Kisita Mining Company …” The Order also stated that “all illegal miners and the Mineral Police Protection Unit officials vacate the mine immediately.” The Court Order notwithstanding, illegal mining continued.

Following our appeal to Your Excellency, the first Presidential Directive was issued on October 12, 2020 for the mine to be handed over to the company per the Court Order.

That Directive not being implemented, led to the second Presidential Directive issued on May 3, 2021. The illegal miners eventually stopped their activities in November 2021 and vacated the mine.

Your Excellency’s intervention in support of the Court Orders, was critical in evicting the illegal miners in November 2021. However, since then, the Ministry of Energy And Mineral Development (MEMD) has failed to hand over the mine to the company’s management per the Court Order and Presidential Directive.

On the contrary, MEMD pushed to hand over the mine to “shareholders” including the illegal miners of Kitumbi Small Scale and Artisanal Miners Association (Kitumbi) who were the targets of the Court Orders and Presidential Directives. These same illegal miners said they were paying a lot of money to government officers of MEMD. In 2020, Kitumbi grossed over United States $10 million in extracted gold from their illegal operations in Kisita under the watchful eye of PMPU and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).

Despite knowing that Kitumbi and its members have no legal standing to mine in Kisita., PMPU, MEMD and other government officials looked the other way and let them resume their illegal operations this past January, contrary to the Court Orders and Presidential Directives.

On January 25, 2023, an individual that Kitumbi claimed was there to officially restart operations, showed up at the mine in two State House cars. Our inquiry to PMPU and MEMD about the resumption of illegal mining by Kitumbi received no response. In 2020, OWC gave the illegal miners time to continue their illegal mining operations, contrary to the Court Orders.

 On November 14, 2022 OWC requested MEMD to recognize it in the matters of Kisita’s mining lease and it was granted within 24 hours. This is a reversal of MEMD’s position in 2020 when it informed OWC that “the Ministry working with State House Anti-Corruption Unit and CID are already carrying out investigations regarding illegal mining activities …” Surprisingly, OWC started taking potential Chinese investors to visit the mine in September 2020 and as recently as November 2022.

Contrary to the Presidential Directive PO/19 dated 12th October 2020 which stated that “To avoid further depletion of the resource, I am directing that you evict all the illegal miners,” their operations continued for more than a year and resumed in January this year. Although several government agencies/institutions have been aware of the situation for several years now, none has seemingly acted effectively if at all, to stop the impunity. One of the strategies employed by the illegal miners and their backers, is to frustrate the company until the license expires at which point it would be cancelled and not renewed.

We appeal to Your Excellency for your continued support and to ensure that the Court Orders and the Presidential Directives are fully enforced, and the meeting you directed to be set up with the company, is organized.

Kisita Management, [email protected]