Energy Minister Nankabirwa warns men on mineral compensation money

BY ZURAH NAKABUGO

The Minister for Energy and Mineral development Ruth Nankabirwa has urged residents of Busoga region to fight financial illiteracy ,  over drinking and marrying new wives after receiving minerals compensation  money .

“In Hoima, people got money after compensation and drunk it all. One of them bought a boda-boda and they stole it in few days. He later said, I have money, I will buy another one tomorrow. Right now he has no home. Others married many women and they ended up with HIV,” she said.

Nankabirwa said, in most places where they have done mineral compensation projects like Bunyoro, Buliisa and Karamoja districts, women preferred building themselves  houses to re- settle and start farming. That was a goo option for them because they didn’t want their husbands to grab the money and waste it on useless things .

For the men they use the compensation money to get new wives and drink alcohol. You cant develop with this kind of behavior ,” Nankabirwa stated .

 Nankabirwa  was at Matuuku village, Bugweri district to  sensitize  residents about compensation and the eviction processes under customary law.  At least 5,000 households in parts of Busoga region  will be evicted to pave way for a multi-billion Rare Earth Metal mining project.

At a meeting attended by  politicians, technocrats and other local leaders  the Minister said that government  was in the process of granting  the prospecting Rwenzori Rare Metal Company a mining license.

Nankabirwa said parliament is waiting for President Museveni to sign on the new Mining and Minerals bill 2021to facilitate the investments and  development of minerals sector and kick start the Rare Earth Metal mining project.  But even before the new law comes into effect the Ministry of Energy is implementing the minerals projects legally under the already existing legal framework -minister Nankabirwa explained .

Nankabirwa said the investors are not interested in land but rather the development of the sector and add value to our minerals .

“After compensation, the affected persons will temporarily be relocated block by block so that they remain neighbours as they were before .The families will be resettled in decent houses .

According to the chairperson of the Rwenzori Rare Metals Company, Mr Richard Kaijuka, the project will take 27 years and they will signs a memorandum of understanding with the affected individuals. 

The new mineral discovery is estimated at 300 million tonnage in Bugiri, Iganga, Bugweri and Mayuge districts. It’s estimated to transform the country’s economy.

The minerals which include; Aluminous clays, yttrium, and rare metals such as gallium and scandium, stands at $370 billion (about Shs 942 trillion).

 Nankabirwa said  that Uganda will be the second largest producer of rare earth ore in the world following  China- if the project is implemented well.

Rare earth elements are a group of specialty metals with unique physical and chemical properties which are on high demand for the production of many modern technologies and emerging industries.

They are used in the manufacturing of wind turbines, hybrid cars, and carbon lighting applications, such as studio lighting and cinema projection. They are also used to create strong metals for aircraft engines, renewable energy technologies, telecommunications and modern medical equipment.

Abud Katuntu, MP Bugweri district said, they have a crisis where the new law on mining  is not yet signed by the president to guide people on the process of compensation and shares in percentage on royalties, transitions and production sharing.

“The new bill has many benefits including royalties.  Nobody disputes that the minerals of Uganda belongs to government according to the constitution. But the residents want their legal interests to be protected and the compensation process and signing of document to be undertake transparently and under the law ,” he said.

Katuntu said the project must have an Environmental Social Economic Impact Assessment approved by NEMA before the project takes off.

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