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Natural Resources Committee halts renewal of AUC exploration license


FILE PHOTO: Gold mining in Mubende.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Natural Resources Committee of parliament has ordered the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines-DGSM in the Energy and Mineral Development Ministry not to renew the mineral exploration license of AUC Mining Company in Mubende pending the disposal of a petition filed by artisan and small-scale miners-ASMs.

AUC is a locally registered company with Ugandan and British owners whose local partners include Moses Masagazi and Gertrude Njuba. The company has been holding three gold exploration licenses in Mubende-Kasanda areas that are due to expire the end of this month, marking the statutory seven years period of exploration.

However, AUC has had a series of clashes with ASMs, which saw them evicted in 2017 when the company and its subsidiary Gemstone International blamed them for interfering with its activities. The matter came up after AUC had filed for renewal of 100 percent of their exploration licenses contrary to the statutory requirement that they relinquish 50 percent of the operating area.

In January this year, the Uganda Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners-UGAASM on behalf of over 23 mining associations operating in Mubende-Kassanda gold mining areas petitioned the Natural Resources Committee of parliament requesting, among other issues that the Energy Ministry gazettes for them at least one square kilometer off the mining license EL 1093.

Dr. Keefa Kiwanuka, the Natural Resources Committee chairperson, says they have observed inconsistencies and uncoordinated information regarding AUC’s license of in addition to the petition filed by ASMs.

Dr. Kiwanuka notes that they have asked the ministry not to renew the license as they look into the matter as well as meeting several parties involved. He says that the committee indents to expedite the matter quickly so that they produce a report, which will guide the course of action.

Dr. Kiwanuka warns that Ministries have developed a tendency of overlooking decisions and directives from parliament, saying his committee exercises powers equivalent to that of a high court. Last week, the Natural Resources Committee was briefed by the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines on the status of gold mining in Mubende.

In their briefing note obtained by URN, it is stated that the mining operations by AUC are not being carried out in line with the approved scheme, which is contrary to section 41 of the mining act. The briefing note further reveals that AUC has failed to file returns, annual financial reports and carry out annual environment audits contrary to the mining act, 2003.



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