President Yoweri Museveni has directed that firms involved in gold mining in Buhweju district should stop immediately.
The President said the firms only have prospecting licenses, which do not permit them to engage in mining.
This followed complaints from residents to the President during his visit to the district to meet veterans of the liberation war.
"There is a problem of gold mining here. People come prospecting and they instead mine. I am going to look into the matter. If we give them prospecting licenses, they cannot start mining," Museveni said.
He instructed the district authorities and the energy and minerals ministry to stop firms from carrying out mining activities without licenses.
Eng. John Bosco Karisa, the Buhweju district youth network patron, hailed the President's directive.
"There has been unregulated depletion of our natural resources, which would negatively impact future generations."
He appealed to the Government to set up a research team to quantify mineral deposits in Buhweju district.
"It is unfortunate that majority of our people have remained poor yet they are sitting on gold," Karisa observed.
He added that the miners have destroyed Buhweju's ecosystem, noting that in some areas, wetlands have been degraded, leaving residents to suffer with no water.
"Because there is nobody following the activities of miners, wide trenches are opened and this has facilitated free flow of water," He said.
The Burere sub-county councilor, Deo Atuheire, said: "We know nothing about the firms' dealings because they come directly from Kampala and begin to mine without consulting the district council."
Atuheire said issues of compensation have not been addressed, which he attributed to lack of a body to determine compensation rates and payment schedules.
"The miners are just cheating people," he said.