Hon Sarah Opendi, the Minister of State for Mineral Development has assured the public that the Mining and Mineral Bill 2019 is in the final stages of being enacted.
While officiating at the grand opening of the Citizens Convention on Mining 2020 by ACODE, Global Rights Alert and other partners, Opendi said that the bill is in its final stages of being tabled before Cabinet and once passed, it will help in streamlining the mining sector in the country.
“The draft bill has already been cleared by the first Parliamentary Council and we shall be tabling it before Cabinet by next month, October,” she said.
Opendi pointed out that the Mining Act of 2003 has been so weak to the extent that convicts have been receiving lenient sentences.
“We want a law that will help us address illegal mining, a law with strong penalties because currently some culprits are taken to court and they end up being fined 2 million shillings which is not stringent enough,” she stated.
The Minister said that despite efforts by government and other stakeholders to reorganise the Mining sector in the country, there are still a number of challenges that can only be sorted if a new law is put in place.
“We want to bring a law that will enforce some of the challenges that we have noted such as the illegal mining, refining of gold and other minerals that is done illegally,” Opendi added.
The proposed law will also look at the Production Sharing Agreements that is not covered by the previous laws as well as addressing environmental issues.
“The draft bill is ready, we sent it to the Ministry of Finance and we believe that by next month, we shall be tabling it before Cabinet so that after discussing it, we shall then table it before Parliament,” Opendi said.
The Executive Director, Global Rights Alert, Winnie Ngabiire called upon the Government to expedite the new bill noting that this will be of great help in rebuilding the mining sector in the country.
“Minerals are one and a key source of political instabilities in the region, wrong elements also take advantage of the unclean gold trade system; we hope that Uganda can take on measures to address the challenges,” Ngabiire said.
The convention was themed ‘Sustainable Development of the Mineral Wealth East Africa’.