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Uganda invites investors to exploit the most sought green energy minerals

Investing in intellectual assets, mineral exploitation while retaining in-country values through technology transfer, and value addition to strategic minerals that answer to the needs of Uganda in addressing socio-economic and energy transformation were emerging issues during the 11th Annual Mineral Wealth Conference (MWC) held in Kampala recently. 

“The national strategy is science-led transformation. This is where the mineral sector is involved. Value addition in the minerals will involve the transfer of technology to Ugandans and that is why we are saying no to raw mineral exports,” said minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero,” 

The conference held on the 11th and 12th of October was organized by the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) and sponsored by chamber members, under the theme Positioning  Uganda’s Minerals for the Green Energy Revolution. The theme is current as it falls within the global debate about the energy transition to cleaner energy. It is also timely in view of the energy crisis faced in Europe, largely caused by the sanctions imposed on Russia over the war with Ukraine.  


In 2015, countries around the world agreed to reduce carbon emissions by half of this century. This saw 196 countries sign on to the Paris Agreement which binds each signatory to take country-specific actions. 

The agreement was adopted on 12th December 2015 during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United  Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and entered into force on 4  November 2016. The ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement is to reduce global warming to at least 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Agreement obliges every country to come up with initiatives and interventions to minimize emissions according to individual country resources and capabilities. These would comprise the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), also called the national climate plans. In the NDCs, countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their Greenhouse Gas emissions to reach the Paris Agreement goals.

Mr. Michael Ahimbisibwe Principal Energy Officer at Uganda’s energy ministry affirmed that the country is already transitioning by gradually adopting an energy mix model while a Biofuels Act is in place that shall guide the blending of fossil fuels with biofuels. 

MWC justified 

The MWC was therefore held to explore the potential of Uganda’s minerals in providing resources necessary for energy transformation. Experts have established that airborne geophysical surveys done across the country at high resolutions have revealed occurrences of various minerals including: copper, lithium, cobalt, manganese, rare piles of earth, geothermal, hydro, tin, tungsten, tantalum, iron ore, graphite and uranium all of which are critical for the production of green energy sources, industrialization and technology development. 

The demand for these products spans the globe, but Uganda is cash-strapped and is calling upon investors to take the opportunities that the sector presents.. 

The director of Blencowe Resources, Mr. Nabil Alam confirmed that the company has discovered 2.3 billion tons of graphite resources in Orom hills, Kitgum district. “Successful mining will lead to further investments in various graphite-related industries,” he said. This mineral is needed for the production of carbon cathode rods for lithium batteries, lubricants, nuclear reactors, refractories, writing materials, and graphite sheets. 

“ Extracting lithium from all sources is paramount to keep the prices of mobile energy devices low. There is currently no substitute for lithium to meet these demands,” said Gershom Muguzi, principal geologist at Geoquest Exploration (U)Ltd.

Low supplies vs high demand 

On the other hand, the discovery of rare earth minerals gives optimism about the country achieving its 2040 vision of industrialization and transition to other sources of energy. Rare piles of earth minerals are used to produce high-tech consumer products like cell phones, computers, television screens, hard drives, electric and hybrid vehicles, and wind turbines. 

While Uganda has the minerals that could meet local demand, experts said the global demand is too high to be satisfied. Yet exploration and mining require heavy capital investments. 

“There aren’t enough minerals to support the energy transition and the current suppliers aren’t meeting demands in the long term. Critical minerals like cobalt, copper, and uranium need huge capital investments,” said the Chairman of Ionic Rare Earths, Mr. Trevor Benson.

While the energy ministry pledged to increase financial resources towards the mineral as a priority sector that will spur industrialization, Dr. Justus Masa, Snr. Staff scientist at Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, Germany advised that there is a comparative advantage to aiming at Kilembe Mines which is potentially low-hanging fruit to benefit from the energy transition. Kilembe has a reputation with fixed assets of copper and cobalt, a 5 MW generation plant at River Mobuku, and resources estimated at 4 million tons of copper and associated materials like cobalt. 


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