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Karamoja Minerals: Local Leaders call for survey to determine potential

FILE PHOTO: Mining in Karamoja

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Leaders in Karamoja want government to conduct seismic surveys to determine the full mineral potential of the region instead of continuing to sing about it. Karamoja is home to minerals like gold, limestone, marble and iron ore deposits.

But the true extent of the deposits is not yet known because it is the only part of Uganda, constituting 20 percent that has not been mapped.

Ambrose Lotukei, the Kotido District LC V Chairperson, says talk that Karamoja is full of minerals is not enough without establishing the extent.

Lotukei says the inadequate information on Karamoja’s mineral wealth is creating a situation whereby minerals like limestone and marble mined in Karamoja are being taken for processing elsewhere.

According to Lotukei, mining and processing minerals in Karamoja would have multiplier effects like jobs for the locals.

Romano Longole, the Coordinator Kotido Peace Initiative says it is not enough for the government to keep singing about minerals in Karamoja without conducting the much awaited survey.

There are a number of players including artisanal miners in the Karamoja mining sector, most of whom do not rely on adequate data and information.

Government last conducted aerial surveys to determine the country’s mineral potential seven years but excluded Karamoja due to insecurity then.

Government says it needs US$ 20 million equivalent to close to Shillings 80 billion to map out Karamoja. Speaking at the Mineral Wealth Conference in Kampala early this month, the Chairman of Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Elly Karuhanga said government has the US$ 20 million but there is no will to conduct the survey.

According to Karuhanga, government does not appreciate that if developed the minerals sub-sector could spur the country’s economic growth and development, citing how South Africa used her mineral wealth to develop infrastructure like roads.

The mineral sub-sector, though having many players who are doing very well, contributes just 0.3 percent to Uganda’s GDP, suggesting that Uganda is not getting value from her mineral wealth.

There is no reliable data on Uganda’s mineral exploitation and exports, suggesting that the sub-sector is as secretive and full of kingpins like in many resource-rich but less democratic countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.



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