Sunday, September 3, 2017

Uganda runs off artisan miners in Mubende

Artisanal gold miners in the central Uganda district of Mubende were removed by soldiers acting on orders of President Yoweri Museveni. The two-day operation followed an order by Stephen Isabalija.
Officially, Isabalija was stopping the illegal mining for environmental degradation, rising crime, and the need to restore order in Uganda’s mining industry. But the ultimatum by President Museveni to have all the artisanal miners off the mines paved the way for Gemstone International to start mining and exploration under a recently re-issued license. Gertrude Njuba, a former minister in Museveni’s cabinet is connected to the company.
Njuba has had gold mining interests in the area since 1987. In 1994, she got a mining lease for up to 207 sq. km in an area which straddles two sub-counties. Njuba’s lease expired two years ago with the owner mining only 2kg of gold.
The lease was renewed for another 15 years anyway. Experts in Uganda’s mining sector say the number of Ugandans directly involved in artisanal and small scale mining has doubled in the last five years to an estimated 400,000 people. The evictions in Mubende have effectively rendered over 50,000 people unemployed overnight.
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