In a move that has excited the country’s budding mineral exploration and extraction industry, the Government of Uganda has revoked an earlier ban of exports of unprocessed minerals out of the country.
Early this year, addressing members of the ruling National Resistance Movement Members of Parliament Caucus at the Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi President Yoweri Museveni reiterated his earlier position that by exporting raw minerals the country was exploring jobs and selling the country’s minerals at giveaway process, yet if a little processing is done on the ore, the sales value goes high.
And President Museveni’s fact may have been right. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral development, a tonne of unprocessed Vermiculite goes for US$25, but if processed the same ton costs US$410.
Recent press reports indicated that the ban had occasioned stress to the country’s budding mining sector. A number of companies licensed to prospect, explore and mine in Uganda closed shop, a number of others operated on borrowing, some downsized leading to loss of jobs- all of which led to the further shrinking of the sector.
For example, Krone Uganda Ltd that is licensed to extract the rich Iron in South Western Uganda was forced by the ban to operate on loans, yet it had tungsten ore worth US$ 720,000, which it could not export because of the ban. If the ban continued, they would probably have had to close down operations.
Uganda has deposits of manganese, tin, wolfram, beryl, diamonds, iron ore, columbite tantalie, among others.
The lifting of the ban however does not affect Iron and copper.
The umbrella body bringing together mining and petroleum private sector players- The Uganda Chamber of Mines & Petroleum has been lobbying the Government to lift the ban. The Chamber will host an international conference dubbed “Mineral Wealth Conference” in October. The conference is intended to attract and interest international players in the mineral industry to invest in Uganda.