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Relief as export ban on unprocessed minerals is lifted

A miner displays a piece of iron ore in Kabale. (Photo: B. Sidsel)

A miner displays a piece of iron ore in Kabale. Iron ore is one of the minerals that had been banned from being exported. (Photo: B. Sidsel)

President Yoweri Museveni has lifted the ban on the exportation of unprocessed minerals by both local and international players, saying he was misled by his Advisors.

In 2011, President Museveni, while hosting the annual round table with mining sector stakeholders at State House directed the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to stop miners from selling minerals in raw form, arguing that it denied the country income and employment.

“When it comes to minerals such as Phosphates, Wolfram, Cobalt, Copper, Coltan, Nickel among others, it is criminal to export them as unprocessed ore,” read the Presidential statement that was circulated at the meeting. “We lose money and jobs by so doing.” The President reportedly equated exporting unprocessed ores to selling “mere soil” that would not fetch any significant returns.

However, the President has since made a u-turn on that decision, much to the excitement of the mining community.

“I am sorry I was misled,” he told a gathering of investors on Wednesday last week at this year’s Presidential round table at State House. “My Advisors were the ones causing this havoc,” he added, sending the audience into joyous applause.

According to one of the mining investors who attended the meeting, President Museveni revealed that some officials at the Energy Ministry had convinced him that it was more economically viable to process the minerals in country than exporting them raw.

Welcome move

The President of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Elly Karuhanga, who was at the meeting, applauded the President saying that it would attract more investors to Uganda’s mining sector.

Other players also welcomed the move but called on the President not to reverse his decision. “Whether his target is for votes or not, it is a good move because most people who are in this business and cannot export raw minerals are not making money,” observed Emmanuel Kibirige, an artisanal gold miner from Mubende District. “We only hope that he does not change his mind after elections and reinstates the directive.”

Report by Flavia Nalubega

editor@oilinuganda.org