20 March 2019

Uganda: Police Accused of Protecting Illegal Gold Miners in Kassanda

Kassanda — Police in Wamala Region are on the spot for allegedly allowing illegal artisanal miners to operate at Kisiita Mining Site which was reportedly licensed to two private firms.

The site which is located in Kalwana Sub -County in the newly-created Kassanda District, was reportedly licensed to Kisiita Mining Company Ltd and Horizon Energy Company Ltd .

Mr Juuko Lukanga, the manager Kisiita Mining Company Ltd said that ever since the police were deployed in the area two years ago, hundreds of people have continued to settle in the mines under unclear circumstances.

"Many of those people come in with the help of police. Instead of blocking them or chasing them away, they [police] just support and protect," Mr Juuko said during a press conference in Mityana Town on Tuesday .

An estimated 10,000 illegal artisanal miners, according to Mr Jjuko, extract iron ore from the mining area and take it to nearby trading centres where they process it to get gold.

Mr Juuko said they have on several occasions complained about the illegal artisanal miners in the area, but they have not been helped.

"We have now resolved to go to court because we possess a license indicating that the mining site belongs to us," he said.

However , Mr Norbert Ochom , the Wamala Regional Police spokesperson said the alleged illegal artisanal miners are believed to be employees of Horizon Energy Company which was also authorised to operate in the same area .

"If those companies claim it is police bringing the illegal miners, let them prove their allegations. We are not there [mining sites] to protect interests of individuals, but to ensure that there is law and order," he said.

In 2017, police and UPDF soldiers deployed in gold mining sites in Bukuya Sub County in the neigbouring Mubende District and demolished all the makeshift structures which were being used by artisanal miners.

Government said then the miners were making money without paying taxes and, as such, deprived the government of revenue.

This prompted the ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to start licensing mining companies and individuals who were willing to pay revenue to government.

Kassanda District has four gold mines in Kitumbi and Kalwana sub-counties that have witnessed emergence of small townships populated by labourers and traders.

The gold mines are operated by artisanal miners, who extract iron ore sand refine it using elementary methods to get gold.

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