KAMPALA- Civil society organisations (CSOs) have criticised the government for allowing foreign mining companies, operating in the arid Karamoja sub region, to use exploration licenses to undertake mining.
Mr Isaac Kabong, the chief executive officer Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO), a livelihood improving organisation, said recently that these companies have taken aantage of the exploration status they are accorded to pursue production.
“The government exploration licence lasts around seven years. So the foreign companies use this time to instead follow the indigenous artisanal miners, participate in mining and end up displacing them,” he said.
Mr Kabong was speaking early in the week during a discussion on the current state of the mineral sector in Karamoja under the theme ‘The mining and mineral sector in Karamoja: Development opportunities and constraints’ that took place in Kampala.
Mr Richard Mugisha, the country director Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa accused government of providing soldiers to the said companies making it impossible for locals and other concerned citizens to access the mining areas.
“The problem is that it is very impossible to have a meaningful socio-economic debate in a military democracy and not just the army I found there but the nature of government,” said Mr Mugisha.
According to the CSOs, government has licenced more than 51 companies in exploring minerals or mining.
When contacted on the matter by this newspaper yesterday, State minister for Minerals Peter Lokeris said: “I am in a meeting, I can’t talk.”
Application for exploration licence is accompanied by a map of the area applied-for, a project brief and a statement on labour and training committed during the holder’s tenancy.
The licence is granted for duration of up to three years and the maximum area of exploration licence is 500 km2. The licence is renewable for two terms of two years each. (uganda-mining.go.ug)
SOURCE: Daily Monitor