Uganda: Govt to Start Mineral Mapping in Karamoja

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will next week start mineral mapping in Karamoja sub-region following the arrival of two survey helicopters yesterday.

Mr Robert Kasande, the permanent secretary at the ministry, yesterday said the survey which cost Shs72b will help the government to establish the available mineral resources in the region.

"The survey will take nine months because it is a large area and the total cost will be around $20 million (aboutShs72.8b)," Mr Kasande said.

The mineral mapping contract was awarded to Xcalibur, a Spanish company, according to information from the ministry.

But Mr John Baptist Lokii, the Member of Parliament for Matheniko County in Moroto, told this newspaper yesterday that locals are worried about the survey and that there could be clashes.

He said many Karamijong view mining as a disruption of pasture grounds for their animals, a critical factor that requires massive sensitisation.

"The community is reacting negatively to the planned survey because of unclear laws on managing natural resources and land. Land in Karamoja is customarily-owned and the kind of livestock farming in the region is pastoralism and transhumance where people move animals from one place to another because of drought," Mr Lokii said.

He added: "But now, we have people who have come to the area claiming that they got permission from the Commissioner for Minerals and they have taken and fenced off huge chunks of land. So, these cattle keepers can no longer access pasture and water in those areas which they used to go to."

The ministry said the mapping activity will cover 10 districts that were not considered during the previous surveys. These include the districts of Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Moroto, Napak, Abim, Kotido and Kaabong, Karenga, Nabilatuk, all in Karamoja and Lamwo District in Acholi.

In a statement last week, the Energy ministry said the mineral survey findings and eventual exploitation of the mineral resources will be crucial in speeding up development in the sub-region and the country.

"Karamoja has potential for economic minerals such as gold, copper, iron ore, rare earth elements, gemstones and marble. Given Uganda's conducive investment environment, these minerals will contribute to the country's economic growth and poverty alleviation by creating jobs..," the statement reads in part.

The ministry said they are building capacity of the local leaders and communities in mineral resources management to enable them negotiate community agreements effectively.

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