The Ministry through the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines (DGSM) has conducted a high level Joint Security framework in Moroto district. The meeting held at Hotel Africana Moroto was attended by Ministers, district leadership from 9 districts, MEMD staff and the Contractor Xcalibur.
The districts represented at the meeting included, Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Kotido, Abim, Kaboong and Karenga.
The Ministers that attended included; Hon. Peter Lokeris (Chaired Meeting), Minister of State for Mineral Development ,Hon. S. Okaasai Opolot, Minister of State for Energy, Hon. Esther Anyakun, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees and Hon. Agnes Nandutu, Minister of State for Karamoja Affairs.
The Ministry technical team was led by the Permanent Secretary Eng. Irene Bateebe, and included Director DGSM, Agnes Alaba, Dr. Isaiah Tumwikirize, Project Coordinator, Karamoja Aerial Survey among others.
Speaking at the meeting , the Ministers Lokeris and Okaasai Opolot said that the airborne geophysical survey, geological and geochemical surveys carried out identified several mineral targets including ten (10) Uranium and eighteen (18) potential mineral targets for further exploration and development in several locations within the country.
Following the completion of the surveys in 2008, the ministry undertook extensive promotion of investment in airborne geophysical survey of Karamoja region in order to complete the remaining part of the country and also to establish the full mineral potential of region.
According to the Ministers , Karamoja Region has good potential for economic minerals such as gold, copper, iron ore, Rare Earth Elements, gemstones, Marble. “These Minerals have a great potential of contributing to economic growth and poverty alleviation through exports and are expected to be a major driver in employment creation over the medium to long term. Sustainable management of mineral resources will lead to transformation of livelihoods of the people of Karamoja and Uganda in general.”
The Ministers further stated that government is committed to the development of mineral resources in Karamoja region and has put in place a conducive environment to promote private sector investment in the mining industry.
Government is also pursuing a focused strategy on few critical minerals such as gold, marble, iron ore, copper gemstones, REEs and graphite; build capacity of the leaders and communities in mineral resources management; to enable them negotiate community agreements.
Through the Ministry of Energy government is also encouraging value addition by attracting factories and processing plants in the region (Sunbelt; Tororo Cement, Hima Cement, DAO Marble.).
“Government attracted a Spanish Company Xcalibur Spain Limited to conduct the aerial survey to establish Magnetic Minerals (Magnetic aeromagnetic survey), radioactive minerals (Radiometric survey), and electrical minerals Electromagnetic and Heavy minerals (Gravity survey). This activity was scheduled to take eighteen (18) months. The aerial surveys was planned to be followed by ground geological, geochemical and geophysical surveys.”
The airborne geophysical and geological mapping of Karamoja region is planned to cover ten (10) districts that were not covered during the previous surveys. These includes: Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Moroto, Napak, Abim, Kotido and Kaabong. Karenga and Nabilatuk and Lamwo districts.
The meeting noted with concern that during the execution of the project two security incidents have been reported where an Aircrafts operated by Xcalibur Geophysics was fired at in Mbale -in the Mt. Elgon border region with Kenya and the recent incident where geoscientists from the Ministry of Energy were shot and killed while undertaking geochemical survey of selected areas aimed at stream sediment, soil samples and Heavy Mineral concentrates to ascertain the mineral resources of Karamoja region.
“To ensure continuity of the survey and mapping of the mineral potential of Karamoja region, there is need to have a discussion on the framework and plans that have been put in place to ensure security and safety of the aircraft and the technical team before the resumption of the surveys,” the Minister stated .