500 for Kampala Mining Talks

Vice Chairman of Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Richard Kaijuka, has said continued partnership between the private sector and government is crucial for the mining industry to grow.

He was giving a briefing last week ahead of the two day Third Mineral Wealth Conference which will take place this week in Kampala.

“If government is focussed on mining and value addition, we are confident that within a decade, mining could contribute more money to the economy than oil and gas,” Kaijuka said.

The conference has attracted over 500 delegates, who will be addressed by President Yoweri Museveni who is the keynote speaker among other high level invited guests.

The delegates, most of whom will be looking for investment opportunities in the industry, are expected to come from Tanzania, Nigeria, DRC, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, Canada, Australia, Kenya and United States.

The meeting, which now plays a critical role in creating opportunities for Uganda’s domestic and international mining interests, is scheduled for October 1st and 2nd.

The theme is ‘Uganda’s Transformation: A New Era in Mining’.

Kaijuka said the objective of the conference is to provide an opportunity for major exploration companies to build joint venture partnerships with local players within Uganda’s mining sector.

Kaijuka said the country is on the right course despite not attracting big players in the mining industry.

Most activities in mining industry in Uganda are still at exploration level, a stage that is regarded as risky because you can’t know if you are going to find minerals.

He said most big companies don’t have time to go into exploration stages preferring to leave that kind of business to small companies who are willing to go into the risky venture of trying to discover minerals.

Edwards Kato, the Commissioner of Geological Survey and Mines revealed that mining activities in Uganda started in 1920s whereby in 1960 it contributed 30% to the country’s coffers.

However due to political turmoil in the 1970s, the mining industry collapsed as investors, managers and people working in the mines fled the country.

When stability returned in the 1980s it was rejuvenated and government put in place a mining policy, acquired geological data and trained people to interpret information which had been acquired.

Using funds from development partners like Africa Development Bank and World Bank, government has built infrastructures like laboratories which are aiding them now that investors coming into the country.

The commissioner said they are reviewing the mining policy and other regulatory framework bearing in mind that many things have changed and that there is need to adhere to international practices.

Kajijuka said Uganda is not the only country trying to attract money for investment and there is need to make investors comfortable about Uganda.

James Kalama of Stanbic Bank Uganda said financers look at certified quantities of the mineral, cost of doing business including regulation, the market and product pricing when choosing to finance a project.

He added that the conference gives the private sector a unique opportunity to interact and understand the industry.

Source : East African Business Week

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