Police Mineral Protection Unit, a unit in the police force in charge of guaranteeing legal mining activities in the country has embarked on a nationwide sensitization campaign aimed at weeding out quack miners.
The development also aimed at ensuring safety in various mining sites. This follows a recent increase in accidents in different mining sites in the country.
The countrywide campaign by the police unit is also done in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
Speaking to miners of Muti Kijumbura mining sites in Buhweju district on Saturday, the Commandant Mineral Protection Unit SP Jesica Keihomba said practicing safe mining should be paramount as she also urged them to form associations which can benefit them and government.
“Like we have been doing in other parts of the country, I urge you to form groups and associations which can benefit you as well as government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development,” she said.
Keigomba also cautioned the miners to desist from using chemicals during mining and processing period which she said is dangerous to the environment and human life.
“Avoid using chemicals like cyanide and mercury, they stay in soil and mix with water which is harmful to the environment and your lives, we will teach you new methods of mining and processing, have protective gears like helmets, gloves, and gumboots,” she added.
She also advised the miners to get licenses and other documentations so as to avoid inconveniences when authorities commence to crack down on illegal miners and mineral smugglers.
“We want to have you registered and give you identity cards so that whoever will be in the mining area is known by government,” she said.
She also noted that police and the Energy Ministry should be aware of the directors of the mining sites including the workers employed by every mining company.
On child labor which is common in many mining areas, the commandant warned that police shall not spare anybody employing minors in mining sites.
Police Mineral Protection Unit was formed last year by the then Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura with the purpose of helping the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development fight illegal mining and also sensitize the mining community about dangers of illegal and unsafe mining activities.
Since last year, the police unit has established detaches in various districts and border towns like Mubende, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Busia, Kisoro Kabale and now Buhweju district.
The unit has since maintained strong anti-mineral smuggling security operatives at Busia border, Kilagati, Katuna and Bunagana.