Artisan miners want to retain their former mining area that is richly endowed with gold, yet government plans on relocating them to 'goldless' land.
There was a heated debate between Mubende miners and Ministry of Energy Officials on the unfair treatment towards artisan gold miners since the evictions last year in August.
A room full of miners from different sub counties in Mubende, amidst the presence of two ministers threatened to beat up a commissioner who repeatedly said there was no room for return to the former mining area of Bukuya for artisan miners. This took place at Enro Hotel in Mityana.
"The law is clear, the artisans interfered with the work of the investor and we had to get rid of them to organize the industry" Comissioner Zachary Baguma emphasized and further explaied
"When the miners made applications, the applications were on existing licensed areas and this was the basis of our refusal to grant the artisan miners location license."
He admitted that the gold deposits in the newly allocated 10 square kilo meter piece of land to the evicted gold miners in Kalwana and Madudu sub counties in Mubende district is not viable for investment by the artisanal miners.
It is at this point that one of the miners Kakembo Danspot stood up with fury and shouted out at the commissioner to stop lying to the meeting and giving miners false hope. He shouted out angrily of how tired miners were of government lies, empty talk and maligning by the technical team at DGSM, headed by himself the Commissioner
The meeting was commissioned and attended by State Minister for Kampala who also doubles as the Woman Member of Parliament for Mubende district Nalongo Benny Bugembe Namugwanya , Minister for Energy Peter Lokeris, officials from DGSM within the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development as well the Mubende district leadership flanked by the Resident District Commissioner, District Chairperson, District Security officials among others.
According to Baguma, there is no physical gold but there is fine gold which cannot be easily extracted in the 10 square kilometre piece of land which was allocated to the artisanal miners about 4 months ago.
Baguma explained that; "From the results of the studies carried out by a team from the Directorate of Geology we have come and come out with a conclusion that physical gold cannot be seen but features associated with fine gold have been traced with in this location of Kalwana and Madudu sub counties. This means as we see it might need a lot of machines used in drilling, brushing, milling and use of a lot of chemicals and as of now we might not recommend it for the artisanal. There is physical gold there is fine gold you cannot crash and get out gold easily."
"We have identified another area which is located in a forest reserve which is not free as well which means we have to get authority from National Forest Authority and that is what we are going to embark on with my team." Baguma added.
Presentation by Miners
Commissioner Baguma acknowledgement for lack of physical gold in Madudu and Kalwana sub counties in Mubende district comes after the artisanal miners who were forcefully evicted in the gold miners in Mubende district lead by Bukya John Bosco, the Spokesperson Ssingo Artisan Miners Association presented a report demanding for an explanation about their fate in the mining industry
Mr Bukya explained that six months down the road, after a presentation to the President of their cahiers about the happenings in the mines and followed by the President's promise to intervene, nothing has been doe. This has left them wondering whether this is a deliberate move to frustrate them and to eliminate them from the mining industry.
"The government has not provided proof of the mineralization in that area, is it suitable for artisanal and small scale mining. The rock in that area requires highly sophiscated technology which may involve blasting, excavation and use of chemicals which the evictees may not afford given their current state of income," Bukya said and further explained
"The 10 square kilometres promised to us by the president in areas of Madudu and kalwana sub counties do not exist in reality as they are already occupied by the hardworking coffee and maize farmers, wetlands and a forest company. The government has not proven that they have compensated or got consent from the current occupants of the land."
The RDC Ms Evelyn Kizza Tinkamalirwe stressed that this same area needed inspecting before resettling the miners, a process that would cost the government more money, yet the area is snot mineralized. He tagged this planned relocation as a wastage of government little resources.
Nalongo Benny Bugembe Namugwanya woman member of parliament for Mubende district expressed that there is need for the ministry of energy to provide an alternative location for these artisanal miners by liaising with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)and National forest authority to ascertain whether there is an opportunity to degazette the forest reserves so that the artisan miners are provided with employment despite the government's current initiative to protect the environment.
It is upon this that Minster Bugembe and State Minister for Minerals Peter lokeris explained that promised to present the miners' report to the President Yoeri Museveni for high level intervention.
These evictions left all the gold miners wondering around the areas of Bukuya, Kamusenene, Kyaliwolera, Kassanda, Lwebituuti, Lugongwe, Kalagala, and many other surrounding areas within Mubende, shelterless and homeless. Men run away from their families out of fear and frustration, while many women were left with no option but to fend for their children in a hard to work area.
The forceful eviction of the artisanal miners followed a presidential directive to get rid of all the artisans in Mubende district on grounds that the people in the mines are not registered and were operating illegally and costing government a lot of money in the sale of uncounted and unregistered gold.
Josephine Nabbaale and Flavia Nalubega