Uganda’s business opportunities in iron ore mining are looking further up following the discovery of more deposits of iron ore in the country’s South West. Recent surveys showed the country has up to 260 million metric tonnes of iron deposits. Of these 200 metric tonnes are of the hematite type of ore, and 60 of the magnetite type.
Studies show that for a feasible iron ore industry to be established a country must have a deposit level of at least 50 metric tonnes. This therefore means that Uganda meets the threshold for iron ore industry establishment.
Hematite type of ore-(taking its name from the red blood) measures 5-6 on the Mohs scale; a measure of the strength of iron. Hematite is mainly used for jewellery and ornament. Magnetite on the other hand, is magnetic in nature and takes various colours in its ore form. Its strength measure 5.5-6.5 on the Mohs scale. This type is mainly used for coating, catalytically functions.
Iron is the most used metal in the making steel; hence the most used metal in cosunctruction, engineering, automotive industry, machinery, etc. In 2012, Uganda banned exportation of iron ore- a fact President Yoweri Museveni reiterated recently.
Iron ore is one of the key elements in global economy. In fact iron ore trade comes only after oil and coal, in global trade. Globally, Australia and Brazil are the two leading exporters. Australia is known to have deposits in excess of 530 million metric tonnes, while Brazil’s is estimated at 400 million metric tonnes.
Currently the price per metric tonne of iron ore is at US$70. This means that Uganda’s total worth of iron ore is in excess of US$ 182 trillion. China has been the biggest importer of Iron ore, taking over from the US and EU. However, with China’s economy stagnating, it is expected that the global demand for iron ore will fall in 2015, and along with it the price per metric tonne.
So far, in Africa, South Africa is the biggest producer of iron ore with deposits of 7.2 million metric tonnes.
The key iron/metal industry players in the country currently include: Roofings Industries, Uganda Baati, Tiang Tang Industries, Steel Rolling Mills, among others.