Kampala — Fifteen of 21 groups of artisanal miners, who were evicted from gold mines in Mubende and Kassanda districts in August 2017, are free to resume extraction of gold after government issued them licences.
The artisanal miners were evicted by AUC Mining Company, a private investment, that holds concession rights to the gold fields in Bukuya.
After more than a year of negotiation between the 21 groups, the government and the investor struck a deal allowing the artisanal miners to acquire licences on 30 per cent of the concession.
"As we speak now, I am already in the field working. I can assure you that my workers have nothing to fear because the group in which I am, is recognised and licensed by the government," said Mr Emmanuel Kibirige, an artisanal miner.
Mr Kibirige, who is the General Secretary of Mubende United Miners Assembly (MUMA), told Daily Monitor yesterday that the 21 groups applied for 30 licences.
However, 15 licences have so far been issued by Department of Geological Survey and Minerals in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
Mr Kibirige said some of the groups combined efforts to apply for the location licences and upon achieving that step, the land on which a particular licence is acquired would be mutually subdivided.
Among those that have secured location licences is Mubende Women Gold Miners Association (Muwogoma). Women were the most affected when the artisanal miners were kicked out of the fields in 2007.
The chairperson of Muwogoma, Ms Jalia Zabibu Namatovu, recounted to this newspaper the struggle they went through before being issued with a licence until Global Rights Alert (GRA) sensitised them on their rights that they started mobilising to apply for licences.
The miners, who spoke to this newspaper, say they need to access cheap loans from government through the Uganda Development Bank to procure modern hand equipment.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Mr Robert Kasande, yesterday said the government will ensure that all licences applied for are issued.