The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has issued three Location Licences to over 500 small scale artisanal miners in Mubende, signaling the resumption of small mining operations, officials said.
The licenses were awarded to Kayonza-Kitumbi Miners Association covering an estimated area of 13.5 Hectares at Bukuya Sub-County in Mubende district to mine gold.
Zakaria Baguma, the acting Director at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development explained that the Location License prohibits the use of mechanized operations, crushing and mulling, use of mercury and cyanide.
“If you want to go mechanized, please speed up the process of acquiring a Mining Lease which will give you the desired Mining Rights,” he advised the artisanal miners.
The development follows the suspension of all artisanal mining activities three months ago in Mubende district a move that was aimed at formalizing small scale artisanal miners.
With the help of government, however, the Kayonza-Kitumbi Miners Association registered and formalized their operations.
“Government put a moratorium for three months because we wanted to make sure those illegal unregistered miners and foreigners are removed from the mines,” Baguma explained.
“We also wanted to bring Police on board and am glad to report that we now have a Mines Police Division,” said Baguma warning that the Location License has stiff conditions that must be adhered to or else risk having it revoked.
Agnes Alaba, the Commissioner in charge of Mines at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines, advised the miners to quicken the process of acquiring a Mining Lease by fulfilling the obligations as required by the Mining Act 2003.
“For one to have a Mining Lease, you must carry out a feasibility study, acquire surface Rights from land owners, and undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment approved by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA),” she said.
Government acknowledges the role Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASM) play in the economy.
Over 5,000 have been trained on issues related to environment, community, and health and safety in the mining sector, states the Energy and Mineral Sector Performance Report FY 2016/17.
“Though the informal nature and on the whole un-mechanized operation generally results in low productivity, the sector represents an important livelihood and income source for the poverty affected local population,” says a statement from the Energy ministry.
“However, without data, it is difficult to accurately determine how much the ASM sector plays in the economy and rural development.
“The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development believes that with better data the true story of the sectors social, environmental and economic impact can be told,” adds the statement.
Procurement for a consultant to map, register, train and develop ASM database that will be integrated with biometric database has been initiated, the Sector Performance Report FY 2016/17 reveals.
The database will give government a means to monitor and manage domestic ASM sector and the ability to analyze economic, social and environmental impacts that can inform policy decisions in the future.
It will also give the private sector a gateway to critical information to ensure transparency of supply chains and ways to collaborate better with partners on corporate social responsibility.
This initiative, officials say is “expected to foster community-driven capacity building, empowerment, and participatory decision making in artisanal and small-scale mining communities, enhance social accountability and promote closer cooperation on environmental and social challenges and increase the participation, and enhance the overall sustainable livelihoods of women and other vulnerable groups in artisanal communities.”