Uganda: Evicted Gold Miners in Mubende Acquire Licences, Set to Return to the Mines

25 February 2019

After a year of protracted struggle, evicted gold miners in Mubende and Kasanda districts have finally acquired mineral licences (location licenses). Mr. Bukya John-Bosco, the Chairperson of Mubende United Miners Assembly (MUMA) - an umbrella association of artisanal and small scale gold miners in Mubende and Kasanda in districts told Oil in Uganda that the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has already granted 11 mining associations location licences to prospect and mine for gold in the two districts.

In August 2017, an estimated 60,000 Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASMs) in Mubende were evicted from the mines on grounds that they were conducting illegal gold mining activities and destroying the environment. President Yoweri Museveni ordered for the eviction of the mines with immediate effect.

"We applied for 23 location licences. So far we have received 11 licences, we are expecting the remaining 12 soon," Bukya said. He applauded different stakeholders mainly Civil Society Organisations for the support they rendered towards the acquisition of mineral licences. "We are currently negotiating with the land owners for surface rights," he added. "Associations that have licences are even free to go back and start mining. However, we want to first get all the licences and organize a legal return of the former illegal miners," he said.

A location licence entitles the ASMs to conduct legal mining activities. It is granted where mining operations do not involve more than Shs 10 million. According to the Mining Act, 2003, a location licence is valid for two years but renewable and it is granted to Ugandan citizens in case of an individual, and for a corporate body where Ugandans hold at least 51 percent beneficial ownership of such a body.

ENTER MUSEVENI

The issuance of the location licences and expected return of formerly evicted miners to the mines follows President Yoweri Museveni's letter in which he directed AUC Mining - a company with a mining lease over the area to relinquish 30 percent of its licence. In a letter dated April 6, 2018, the President directed Hon. Irene Muloni, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development to renew the exploration licence of AUC Mining (U) Limited in Bukuya and Kitumbi sub-counties in Mubende district. The company is linked to bush war heroine and Presidential Advisor, Ms. Gertrude Njuba.

"On 13th June, 2017, I chaired a meeting at State House to discuss the challenges miners were facing in Mubende district following the occupation of the mining areas by illegal miners. The meeting was attended by government officials and directors of AUC Mining (U) Ltd," President Museveni wrote. He added, "During the meeting, the company requested among others, for the renewal of their exploration license areas in Mubende district where exploration work was disturbed by illegal miners. The company requested that 100% of their license locations renewed for a period of 5 years as compensation for the time lost and for spoilt work."

However, Mubende United Miners Assembly and the Federation successfully shared the 30%, the president allocated to ASMs.

BENCH MARKING TRIP

According to Bukya, the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) has organised a two weeks benching marking trip for Artisanal and Small Scale Miners in Mubende and Kasanda districts to Rwanda and Tanzania. The trip will see ASMs tour mining areas in the two neighbouring countries to enable learning and picking lessons on responsible and sustainable mining initiatives.

Edward Ssekika

Edited by Flavia Nalubega

Edited by Didas Muhumuza

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