Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government has embarked on the redevelopment of Kilembe mines in Kasese district. The redevelopment is facilitated through the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development together with the Estate of the Late Sir George David Kamurasi Rukiidi III, the management of Kilembe Mines Limited-KML and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
Kilembe mines located on the feet of Rwenzori mountains was a major source of revenue for Uganda in the 1960s through 1970s. However, the mines suffered a setback in 1977 when Idi Amin Dada, then president of Uganda ordered Canadian investors to leave the mines in the hands of Ugandans.
Amin’s nationalisation policy was also followed by a steep fall in the global prices of copper ore and high inflation hence leading to the closure of the mines in 1978. The mines have since been under the care and maintenance of KML until recent when the government started making several attempts at revival.
KML is a public enterprise with the government holding 99.99% shares. The administrators of the estate of lake Rukidi III hold the remaining shares. A joint press statement released on Tuesday by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa and the Minister of State for Privatization and Investment, Evelyn Anite indicates that the government has deployed the UPDF engineering brigade to carry out the restoration of destroyed structures and restore the mines to an attractive state.
In 2020, floods destroyed key KML structures including the tailings, Mubuku I hydropower plant, the administration block and workshops. The ministers noted that the administration of the estate of the lake Rukidi III has been fully reinstated as shareholders and they are actively involved in the process and consent to the procurement of an investor.
According to the ministers, the redevelopment of Kilembe mines will have a catalystic effect on facilitating industrialisation, offer significant employment opportunities and increase local and national revenue collections.
“To achieve this, we have invited companies to express their interest in partnering with government through a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement,” part of the statement read. The ministers also noted that the mineral wealth of Kilembe has unmatched potential given the availability of cobalt, copper and associated base metals within the mining lease and exploration license areas.
“It’s a priority of Government of Uganda in the Third National Development Plan 2020/21-2021/25 mineral Development Programme whose aim is to increase exploitation and value addition in selected resources for quality and gainful jobs in industrialisation,” the two ministers stated.
They noted that the prioritised minerals for NDP III include copper and Kilembe mines in Kasese. They also note that the revamping of the mines will help the country in its drive to promote clean and safe energy.
“Electrical networks need a large number of coppers, it’s a cornerstone for all electricity-related technologies and electric equipment,” they noted. The Manager of Kilembe Mines, Fred Kyakonye Welaga welcomes the development noting that there are several tonnes of cobalt being eroded by running water.