District leadership wants the president to intervene
Over 60,000 artisan and small scale gold miners in Mubende are leaving under fear following a recent alleged presidential directive to evict them from the area.
The miners were given a seven days ultimatum starting 16th June 2017 to vacate the premises in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties, in the mining camps of Kampala, Kikade, Kamusenene and Kapya, in favour of the license holder Gemstone International. This company has a mining lease of 21 years and Exploration license for three years for this same area that houses the artisan miners. The miners have tried to access a location license from Ministry of Energy for this same area since 2015 but with no success.
According to the member of Parliament of Bukuya sub county, Hon Bukenya Micheal, the directive was arrived at after a meeting held at State House with the Minister of State for Minerals, Defence Minister among others agreed that the artisan miners are a security threat to the country, claiming that majority are from DRC and other neighbouring countries, hence ferrying out Uganda’s gold to other countries illegally.
Dr. Bukenya claims that the people who made decisions in state house for miners to vacate the premises within five days have little or no knowledge of the operations in these gold mining camps, hence unaware of how many people shall be affected by this move.
“They have never stepped in this constituency; they don’t know what takes place in the gold mines. Neither the local council leadership, district leadership, the sub county leadership, parliamentary representation was involved in the discussion that took place in state house which we think was done by design because they didn’t want the president to know the truth. So we think everything wasn’t done the right way and we want to be given audience such that we will be involved in the issues concerning our area,” he said.
Dr.Bukenya explained that the meeting also allegedly agreed that the people in the mines are not registered hence government doesn’t know the amount of gold getting out from this area neither does it know the people operating in this area. There were also claims of environmental degradation thus the need to evict them from this area.
Residents live in fear
Mr Nkwatirire Ismail, The Chairperson LC III Luginji gold mining area explained that what is needed is not ridicule but support from government to uphold them as Ugandans who have tried to find a livening in gold mining and have created employment for many
“We are Ugandans who have managed to create employment for ourselves. All we need is government to come up with regulations on how best we can improve our jobs not evicting us because we have nowhere to go,” he said.
Miners confirmed that this is a source of livelihood for many. Mr Mulyazaawo Umaru one of the gold miners explained that;” All my life rotates now around the gold mine, I cannot afford to lose all the millions invested in digging up the tunnel in search for gold. I would rather fight and I don’t care whether I lose my life in the battle.”
Another resident Mr Mutabaazi Jonathan said Government ought to put it’s citizens first. “Why care for the interests and needs of a single individual an investor and rendering 60,000 people homeless and jobless. Government should put her citizens interests first,” he told this publication.
Mubende. for about five years now, illegal gold miners from various parts of Uganda have occupied two hills of about 44 acres in Kitumbi and Bukuya Sub-counties, Mubende District.
Estimates indicate the number of the miners – known as artisanal miners – could be as high as 10,000 in Lujinji A and B villages, in Kitumbi Sub-county alone but over 50,000 people are indirectly benefiting from the exercise as they are engaged in sale of merchandise like food stuffs, bars, entertainment industry, transport industry, agriculture and other related activities.
Mr Emmanuel Kibirige, the general secretary Ssingo Artisanal Gold Miners Association (SASSMA) said the association applied for the location licence on behalf of other miners but were not granted.
A location licence, according to The Mining Act, 2003 section 54 (2), is a licence for prospecting and mining operations by methods which do not involve substantial expenditure and the use of specialised technology.
This is mostly meant for small-scale miners who do not have the capacity to afford high-tech equipment for mining.
By Josephine Nabaale
Mubende gold mining is highly dominated by men, a trait blamed on the cultural belief of women not being allowed to access mines.
Mr Kibirige Emmanuel the secretary Singo Artisan Small Scale Miners Association (SASSMA) in Kitumbi sub county Mubende district explains that they have 1420 registered members but only 472 are women that deal in petty jobs like panning gold dust, spreading the gold dust in the sun to dry up among others.
“Women engagement in the gold mining is rooted back in our culture. It was believed that if you slept with a woman you could never get gold the next day. Women were not allowed to step near a gold pit because they were looked at as a curse, that if they got close to a gold pit, gold could disappear. As a result we also told our workers never to sleep with a woman for a full week,” Mr Kibirige revealed
“However these are practices that were made by our grandparents but we have discovered that all these were lies because today women have come up to engage in the mining although in small numbers. They enter tunnels and pits and own gold pits and all is well, nothing has gone wrong.” Kibirige stressed
Kibirige explained that the value chain begins with getting a spade in the morning, entering the pit, digging out the gold dust which is done by men. Women are involved in petty jobs like sun drying the gold dust, taking it to the crashing/milling machine after which they start panning it. A few women however have taken on the ‘men’ jobs of buying and selling gold.
However others also blame the limited involvement of women in the mining sector on limited information provision. About 2500 women in Mubende district have not directly engaged in mining sector due to lack of information which has hindered there economic empowerment.
According to the community development officer for Kitumbi Sub County Mr senkusu Edward the information gap in the mining sector has greatly affected the women involvement in this activity thus carrying out petty jobs like gold dust panning where they earn peanuts
Mr Senkusu explained that gold mines in Mubende district are estimated to accommodate around 60,000 people dealing in the business. Out of this number only 2500 are women who engage mainly in service provision.
“Most women are always scared of engaging in mining sector, they do not know how to operate machines, fear taking risks- a culture belief community attitude and above all they lack information to help them run this business,” he explained.
“There is need for thorough sensitization of the community to enable the women to work in the mines.” Senkusu stressed
Ms Catherine Nyakecho, a Geologist Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development confirmed that women engagement in the mining sector is still at low capacity. She explained that a survey carried out in 20 Uganda’s gold mining sites revealed that men participation stands at 113,756 while women are at 79,019.
According to the Mining Act, 2003, clause 114, on the contrary, a woman may be employed in any underground work in any mine or in any operation or activity relating to or associated with mining. This clearly indicates that women are catered for under the law but due to the lack of information and cultural ties, women involvement in this sector is below standard.
Ms Nivatiti Nandujja the Women Rights Coordinator ActionAid Uganda, women should come on board and get involved in the decision making in the mining sector.
“We need to have gender based laws with in this sector. When it comes to the employment pattern, the conditions where they work are critical; they lack protective gears from dangerous chemicals substances, they don’t have the entitlements provided for by the law like maternity leave , the wages are really wanting. These issues and more need to be addressed,” she advised
Ms Nivatiti explained that there is need to make information about the mining sector available for women. She called on ensuring a gender equity sector with women representation who ensure that women benefits within the sector are pronounced.
Nivatiti stressed that; “We need to address the cultural barriers affecting women participation; we need to empower women to talk in all the forums and to ask for what belongs to them during community meetings. They need to bargain their way through so that their rights are realized.”
By Josephine Nabaale
The Civil Society Organisations will be pushing for inclusivness as they present their agenda to Members of Parliament in the ongoing legislation review process of the Mining Act 2003 and Mining Policy 2001.
Stakeholders of the Civil Society Organisation will be meeting Members of Parliament drawn from the Natural Resources Committee and Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) in a working dialogue tomorrow on Thursday 18, May 2017 praying to have their views taken into consideration in the ongoing legislative review process of the Mining Act 2003 and Mining Policy 2001.
Ms. Flavia Nalubega, the project officer of the Extractives Governance Project at Actionaid Uganda, says it will be an opportunity for civil society to “voice their expectations on the law under review and also have an input in the matter.
“Now is the time to rally support before the matter is presented on the floor of parliament,” Ms. Nalubega said.
The workshop follows a consultative meeting with Members of Parliament on the Natural Resources Committee under the leadership of Hon. Mukitale Steven that was held in March this year regarding the review of the Mining Act.
According to the Mining and Mineral Policy Draft 2016, government recognizes the input of artisanal miners to the socio-economic development of the country bearing in mind that artisanal mining is a source of livelihood for thousands of Ugandans.
In this regard government plans to organize and formalize artisanal miners and gazette them to operate in areas that are not under commercial exploration.
Ms Winfred Ngabirwe, Global Rights Alert Executive Director, says they hope to build consensus with the legislators to ensure a well regulated sector and a better Uganda.
“We have the National Development Plan and Vision 2040 and we need MPs to know where we are coming from. Without good legislation we are leaving out a very big section of Ugandans where we’ll continue to see under development and exploitation, “ She said and added,
“The challenge is not about the leadership, the State or who is in power; there’s no one against the other but rather we strive for inclusive development in the sector,” Ms Ngabiirwe said.
Stakeholders can join the interaction on Twitter under the hastag #mininglegislation that will be relayed by @OilInUg.
Report by Robert Mwesigye
RT Global Resources pulls out of negotiations to construct the oil refinery, government launches a search for a new investor. The alternate bidder (SK Engineering and Construction) is no longer interested in any negotiations with government forcing it to re-launch a search for a new investor.
The Board of Uganda’s National Oil Company (UNOC) appoints Dr. Josephine Wapakabulo as the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
President Yoweri Museveni announces the decision that Uganda and Tanzania have entered a deal that will seal an oil pipeline of crude oil from Hoima to the Tanga port along the North Eastern coast of Tanzania (thereby abandoning the joint communique with Kenya). The announcement was made in Kampala as the President closed a meeting of East African leaders called to fast track infrastructural projects in the Region.
Over sixty Ugandan and international NGOs issues a joint press statement calling on the Uganda government to stop its plans of licensing out the Ngaji oil block (covering Lake Edward and part of Queen Elizabeth National Park) at the DRC border in order to preserve the pristine environment of the Virunga National Park.
The High Court of Masindi declared that Robert Bansigaraho wrongfully evicted the residents of Rwamutonga and advised them to seek compensation for the damage caused.
Total E & P appoints Mr. Adewale Fayemi as the new General Manager for its operations in Uganda. Mr. Adewale, a Nigerian, becomes the third Head of the French Major’s subsidiary in Uganda in the past three years, replacing François Rafin who barely served a year.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has formally expressed interest to join the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project (EACOP), Oil in Uganda has established.
Uganda and Tanzania plans to construct a 1,445 km long, 24-inch diameter, heated pipeline to provide access for Uganda’s crude oil to the international market.
Uganda’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Irene Muloni noted that Democratic Republic of Congo government is considering EACOP as an alternative route to access the international market for its crude from newly discovered oil resources in the eastern part of the country.
“The DRC government has formally expressed interest to join crude pipeline project. They see it [EACOP] as an alternative route for their crude to the market,” she said, while launching the Front End Engineering Designing (FEED) for the crude oil pipeline project recently.
An American Company Gulf Interstate is conducting the FEED study that is expected to provide the actual designs, costs and route for the crude oil pipeline. The study that was launched early January 2017 is expected to be completed within 8 months.
Muloni explained that when they (Uganda and Tanzania team) was inspecting the Tanga port last year, they were joined by an official delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Hydrocarbons, and the delegation expressed interest to participate in the crude oil pipeline project.
“This is potential route for them to access the international market,” she explained. This means DRC government, if admitted will be expected to acquire a stake in the EACOP and pay a tariff of $ 12 dollars per every barrel of crude oil transported through the pipeline.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has so far discovered 3 billion barrels of oil around Lake Albert Eastern and part of the country, which neighbors Uganda. However, it is yet to be confirmed how much of the 3 billion barrels is recoverable. It is therefore cheaper for DRC to transport its crude through EACOP and the Alternative being construction of a 6,500 kilometer long pipeline running though the vast jungles to the country’s western coast line.
Last year, Giuseppe Cicarelli, the Chief executive officer of Oil of DRCongo, one of the companies exploring for oil in Eastern DRC, said access to the least cost option to get crude to the international market is vital to the next round of investment the company is supposed to make.
“Oil of DRCongo is actively working to find viable solutions for the future evacuation of the crude oil from block I and II of Lake Albert, having already completed an extensive seismic campaign,” he said. Oil of DRCongo, operates two blocks around Lake Albert.
DRC’s expression of interest follows, President Museveni recent appeal to his Congolese counterpart, Joseph Kabila to consider joining the northern corridor projects, in particular the East African crude oil pipeline.
French oil giant, Total S.A is one of the companies exploring oil in northeastern DRC. Total holds 66 percent stake in Block 3, located along Lake Albert alongside with South Africa’s SacOil.
Total ‘has 54.9 majority stake in Uganda’s’ following a partial farm- down with Tullow, though the transaction awaits government approval. With oil exploration activities in DRC, a controlling stake in Uganda’s oil fields and interests in Tanzania’s oil exploration activities, it makes economic sense for the company to push DRC government to join EACOP.
Total has already indicated its willingness to finance to the crude oil pipeline is likely to be the biggest financier of the crude oil pipeline.
Report by Edward Ssekika