The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) has asked the government to establish authority or agency that will be responsible to oversee the mining sector.
The Chamber also proposes that the government must come up with a Mining Fund, just like the Road Fund to help support the Mining Sector.
These were some of the key resolutions that came out the 8th Mineral Wealth Conference that was held at the Kampala Serena Hotel in the week.
Speaking during the closing of a two days conference on Mining the Chairperson of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Dr Elly Karuhanga said the establishment of an Autonomous Agency will play a big role towards the development of the mining sector which he said is struggling.
“The Government has established agencies to cater for Oil and Energy Sector as the Chamber of Mines, we are also calling on Government to establish a fully established Mining Agency that will be responsible for the Mining sector.
“This will solve some of the challenges which the Directorate of Geology Survey and Mines is facing especially when it comes to the issue of issuing out Mining Licenses,” said Karuhanga.
He said the Government should also establish a Special Funds pool for the mining sector which will enable local Miners especially Artisanal Miners to access cheap loans for their Mining activities.
Karuhanga said most of the commercial banks in the country are not willing to extend credit to Artisanal miners.
“Once the Miners have access to credit, it will enable them to acquire modern machinery and also technology to support their activities,” noted Karuhanga.
During the two days event, the private sector also raised the issue of access to surface rights, which they said has increased the cost of doing business.
Responding to the issues raised by Chamber of Mines, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development Eng. Irene Muloni said the Government is committed to ensuring that the operating Environment is Conducive.
“As Government, we are aware of some of the challenges the sector is facing but we are not seated.
“Environment will soon improve since we are developing new laws to regulate the sector. The current Mining Act of 2003 cannot address all the new emerging issues that’s why we are repealing the Act and come up with the new Law.
“A Bill has been developed and its principles have been endorsed by the cabinet. Our technical people in the Directorate of Mines have embarked on consulting the public about the content of the Bill,” said Muloni.
On the issue of accessing land for the mining activities, the minister said she will table the issue before cabinet to ensure that mining investors’ access to surface rights in a short period of time. She added that for this to happen Government need to come up with strong land access policy that supports the development of the Private sector.
“The current Laws regarding the issue of land gives more power to the local people but this has created many problems when it comes to the execution of development projects.
“Access to land rights in Uganda is too expensive because the land belongs to the people. The government should come up with some solutions to ensure that investors are not sabotaged to kick start the execution of their investment projects,” stressed Muloni.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO