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Mubende artisan miners off to Tanzania

Minister of state for minerals Mr. Peter Lokeris at the office in Entebbe before departure to Tanzania. (PHOTO/David Mafabi)

ENTEBBE – A delegation from Mubende Artisan Miners Association has gone to Tanzania for a benchmarking trip on best mining practices especially in mining gold.

The five-day visit is organized by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and will comprise 30 members of the miners association.

According to a statement from the ministry of Energy dated April 1, the minister of state for Minerals Mr. Peter Lokeris is heading the delegation that intends to visit Tanzanian artisan miners and observe the rich experience by Tanzania in gold mining in Mwanza and Geita including market exploration areas.

The benchmarking team consists of cabinet officials, Members of Parliament, technical officers from the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines, the Uganda Police Force, and representatives from Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Associations.

The other officials from the ministry include the geological survey and mines, the ministry’s accounting officer Ms. Prisca Boonabantu, the Commissioner for Mines Ms. Agnes Alaba and Mubende district leaders.

While addressing the delegation April 1, in Entebbe before departure, Mr. Lokeris said the benchmarking trip is expected to improve the existing ASM management strategy, inform mechanisms to regulate ASM movements from one mining area to another, encourage ASM participation in supply chain initiatives and ease monitoring, evaluation and improvement of ASM practices.

“I would like to thank the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania for accepting our request to visit mining sites in Tanzania for purposes of benchmarking best mining practices that can be replicated in Uganda and vice versa,” Mr. Lokeris said.

He revealed that the Government of Uganda, therefore, through the ministry of Energy is undertaking this benchmarking trip to ASM model sites in Tanzania to facilitate sharing of experiences among ASMs, skills and technology transfers and promote technical networking on the management of Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) within the region.

He explained that Uganda’s mining industry is dominated by Artisanal and Small Scale Mining operations and that over 1 million Ugandans directly or indirectly benefit from Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) operations.

Mr. Lokeris revealed that the minerals mined by ASMs include: Gold, tin, tungsten, columbite-tantalite, iron ore, gemstones, limestone, Marble, Kaolin, clay, sands, granites and salt which are widely distributed throughout the country.

He said it was notable that the ASM sector is usually portrayed by its negative impacts rather than by understanding and addressing some of the structural challenges to improve the sector’s opportunities for sustainable development.

He explained further that the ASM sector’s structural challenges include: inadequate regulation, the local politics in ASM zones, nomadic way of ASM operations, influx of foreigners, insecurity, environmental degradation (tailings and gaping holes), use of hazardous chemicals such as mercury and cyanide, inadequate technical and financial capacity and lost revenue opportunities for government.

Adding that “these structural challenges need to be addressed for ASM to contribute to social and economic development of the country and ASM sector in Uganda includes a diversity of players such as Ugandans, migrants and most vulnerable groups including women and children. ”

Ministry of energy and mineral development officials and Mubende artisan miners before departure for Tanzania at Entebbe. (PHOTO/David Mafabi)

He said the mandate of my ministry is to “establish, promote the development, strategically manage and safeguard the rational and sustainable exploitation and utilization of energy and mineral resources for social and economic development.”

“And this is the basis of our efforts as we formulate and implement policy, strive to create a conducive investment climate and ensure that mining activities are undertaken in a manner that ensures equitable access to benefits for all,” said Mr. Lokeris.

The minister of Energy Ms. Irene Muloni said her ministry’s priority is to harness energy and mineral resources for employment creation, value addition, industrialization, and local content development.

“And the energy and mineral sector is thus a primary growth sector in attaining the national strategic direction towards middle-income status,” said Ms. Muloni on phone.

She revealed that the Government of Uganda recognizes the potential that ASM can contribute to the local economic development if well regulated and that ASM can play a significant role in providing employment, especially in rural areas, improving the livelihood of people directly or indirectly and controlling rural to urban migration.

Ms. Muloni said the benchmarking trip is expected to improve the existing ASM management strategy, inform mechanisms to regulate ASM movements from one mining area to another, encourage ASM participation in supply chain initiatives and ease monitoring, evaluation and improvement of ASM practices.

She revealed that lessons learned from this trip will be used to inform the policy, legal and regulatory reforms for Uganda’s mining sector and that these lessons will be pioneered in Mubende District where extensive mining of gold by artisans is predominant before it is rolled out to other parts of the country.

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