The chairman board of Trustees Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Richard Henry Kaijuka has called upon government to holistically focus on the 10 strategic minerals available in Uganda to develop the sector and improve on the economic benefits Uganda gets from minerals.
Uganda’s top minerals he said, including Gold, Iron-Ore, Tin, Tungsten and Tantalite, Aluminous clays and Sand, Vermiculite, Copper and PGM, Phosphates, Dimension stones, Industrial Minerals Limestone and salt.
If thoroughly exploited, Kaijuka said these minerals would be a major development driver.
“If we have value-addition on all the selected 10 minerals clusters, the potential and income generated for Uganda would exceed what we expect from Oil and Gas” Kaijuka said.
This was during the opening session of the 7th annual Mineral Wealth Conference at Serena Hotel in Kampala.
Under the theme “Eastern Africa: The continent’s next Mining and Investment haven”, this year’s conference is focusing on investment opportunities in the Mining sector around East Africa.
Furthermore, Kaijuka asked government to fast track the establishment of the national certified mineral laboratory to support players with in the sector to test and certified minerals from within the country.
“It’s a shame that we are still shipping soil and rock samples to South Africa, Tanzania, Europe and other countries, we need our own laboratory,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, Thomas Ole-Kuyan, the Deputy Country Director UNDP, one of the organisations at the forefront of supporting the Mineral sector in Uganda, called upon government to focus more on Artisan Small Minerals that are currently taking place out of the current mining sector legal framework.
“From a report that we did, 98% of artisan and small mining production and 56% of medium scale mining production take place outside the legal framework. Official statistics show that US$350m per year is got from illegal mining, if this money is put within the legal framework, Uganda’s GDP would improve by 1.4%” Ole-Kuyan said
He emphasized the need to integrate the Artisan mines into the mineral supply chains both at local, national, regional and global level as a way of strengthening market linkages inclusive participation in supply and value chains.
Robert Kasande, the permanent secretary Ministry of Energy and Mineral development who officially opened the conference re- emphasized government’s position on the Mining Sector saying that it was fully supportive and was working towards putting up strong regulations that will government the Artisan Mines as well as the environmental, gender and child labour issues that are affecting the sector