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Despite its potential, Uganda’s mineral sector is still struggling characterized mainly by informal, illegal artisan mining, massive speculation with no concrete data on known deposit reserves. Uganda is underexplored and thus largely considered “green field” in terms of mineral deposits potential.
A change in circumstances and prioritizing could lead to the sector to become the backbone for economic development and improvement of the international balance of payments. How?

  • Stimulating broad-based industrialization (mid-stream and downstream)
  • Local community developments (employment & service provision –Transportation, fuel, accommodation, agricultural produce, training facilities.
  • Infrastructural development and reorganization (Power, water, roads, rail)
    So what needs to be done?
  • Extensive exploration (PPs) , incentives, Fines& penalties to rid of speculators, strict inspection Monitoring.
  • Investment in supportive/required infrastructure (Rail, Power, road networks leading to deposits)
  • Revamp the old mines to tap into the current demand for “green minerals”-Kilembe for Co, Cu and Zn.
  • Invest in small-medium smelters/processors minerals with known deposits (Phosphates at Usukulu, Tungsten at Nyamuriro.
  • Allow artisan and small scale miners to export raw minerals. (iron ore, tungsten, tantalite, nickel, gold…. Eg to take advantage of rising world market prices. For example a ton of iron ore is selling at $250, the highest it has been in a long time. Such opportunities can be avenues to raise capital for funding expansive exploration. (exploration is a risky venture yet highly capital intensive. Also, typically, it takes 6-10 years to do a detailed exploration through to completion of a detailed feasibility study to establish a bankable project, and can sometimes go up to 12 years depending on circumstances and with heavy investment. In such a scenario, the minerals recovered before FID to setup a smelter can be exported. (No investor can set up a smelter if they are not sure of material feeds for at least 30 years. This is because typically, a metal smelter has an amortization period in excess of 20 years and may have a life of 30, 40 or more years.
    Critical drivers
  • Mining code (stable, predictability, internationally competitive and provides certainty needed by investors for already highly risky investments- attracts and retains serious investment in the sector
  • Fiscal regime – (fair, predictable, internationally competitive and aligned with international best practice, attracts and retains more investment in the sector-fiscal incentives boost a country’s investment attractiveness
  • Technical capacity (institutional efficiency in licensing, enforcement, inspections monitoring, accountability, Transparency.
  • Exploration& Mining data/ information (deposits potential- builds investor confidence, facilitates FID, attracts more, genuine reputable investors).
    By Sarah Namara – Advisor on the Mineral sector Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum

Brief about Sarah Namara
Holds a Master of Science degree in Environment & Natural resources from Makerere University
Kampala, a registered ESIA Practitioner under NEMA, with over 10 years experience working in the
mining sector, and currently serving as a member of the UCMP mining subcommittee as well as a
Coordinator of Women in Mining Uganda Chapter-UCMP.

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