By Sierra Ruth Arinaitwe
The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Hon Ruth Nankabirwa has cautioned mining companies in Eastern Uganda to observe their employee’s safety at all times while on duty and to practice sustainable exploitation of minerals.
This was during the minister’s induction tour of the minerals sub sector to Busia and Tororo districts in Eastern Uganda. Nankabirwa was accompanied by the Minister of State for Minerals Hon Peter Lokeris and a delegation from the Directorate of Geological surveys and mines led by the Acting Director Ms Agnes Alaba.
The ministerial team visited the two gold mining sites in Busia including Tira Gold mine and Wagagai Gold mine where as in Tororo district, the team paid a visit to three cement making factories and their quarrying site including; Tororo cement, Hima cement and Simba cement.
While speaking to the media during site inspection, Hon Nankabirwa revealed that the purpose of the tour was to see the progress in the mines in terms of quality, regulation, observation of human rights and environmental issues.
“I congratulate Wagagai for being the most organized gold mine in Uganda and for respecting the environment. However, I advise them to always observe safety of workers all the time not only when am here. We might need money but not over the rights of the people,” she remarked.
The minister also hinted on the need for more inspectors on ground in every region for monitoring purposes. “I need inspectors on ground to monitor how the workers in the mines are treated in terms of using protective gears while on duty. The inspectors will also monitor production in the mines to ensure that the companies fully declare their total production,” she said.
At the quarrying sites, the Minister questioned the open ditches left behind by the investors after mining. She therefore recommended back filling of the ditches as a means of overcoming environmental destruction and ensuring safety of the communities.
While meeting with the artisanal / small scale miners in Busia, the ministers appreciated the miners for choosing to go legal and conducting their operations in the right way.
Dr. Peter Lokeris, the State minister for Minerals instructed the miners to get operating licenses and organize them into groups/associations for better management. “Ensure that you register with the system, to ease government’s planning in case of offering support,” he recommended.
Nankabirwa advised the miners to use the opportunity of the parish development model to add value to their minerals. “Use this support to improve the quality of your products,” she said.
New mining bill
Following the passing of the new mining bill, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development reminded the involved stake holders to respect and get equipped with the new mining bill and all the laws governing the mining sector.
“My team will organize regional workshops with all stake holders including the investors, district leaders, local community and the artisanal miners to fully explain the new mining bill and guide you on what laws you are supposed to follow,” she said.
She further observed that the workshops will be used to build strong relationships and create mutual understanding between the investors, district leadership and local communities. “I want the communities to appreciate the work being done in the mines and in turn, they will protect the mines at all costs in case of anything,” remarked Nankabirwa.
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