The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, has accused Mubende artisan Miners for falsely accusing government of allocating them barren land free from gold deposits.
The Minister of State for Mineral Development made the argument while appearing before Parliament’s Natural Resource Committee that is investigating pleas in a petition by miners in Buhweju, Mubende and Busia district over the mistreatment of miners in their areas.
It should be recalled that following what Government termed uncontrolled gold mining in Mubende district, the Ministry of Energy evicted over 7000 residents on August 3rd, 2017 to enable government demarcate, organize and identify miners from non-miners.
Government identified 10Km of area for the local areas, but the local miners rejected the area, deeming it barren for gold mining, a decision that has been source of conflict between locals and Government.
The bickering saw the intervention of President Museveni who ordered in April 2018 to have the local miners given 30% area, but the local miners want to be returned to the earlier places they were evicted from.
According to the Minister, the submitted returns continuously show that the Miners report zero production giving no reasons for non-mineralization.
Opendi said that MUMA through their geological assessment reports done by a geologist hired from Zimbabwe emphasize that the area is not viable for economic mining.
She argued that, “The petitioners have not done basic exploration according to the ministry’s analysis; they have jumped with premature conclusion. 17 sample results over 3 square kilometers cannot be a basis for declaring such a huge area barren later on 15 kilometers which has continued to lay without any exploration work.”
Opendi added that, “What is being done by MUMA is symbolic of someone who wants to fly before they walk, petitioning to take over the work done by other private companies by simply making demands should not be accepted in the mining industry.”
Leading the team of small scale miners, John Bosco Bukya of Mubende United Miners’ Assembly (MUMA) castigated officials in the Ministry of Energy of mistreating the local miners at the expense of foreign investors.
“These places that were given to us were not our former places, these are places were mining had never taken place; we are now being moved to areas were we don’t own land yet we were owning land,” Bukya said.