Posts tagged as: mineral

DC Suspects Secret Plan to Terminate Valid Contract

By Julieth Ngarabali Thecitizentz

Chalinze — Bagamoyo District Commissioner Majid Mwanga says he has discovered a dirty game played by some East Zone Mineral Office officials, who want to terminate a contract with a bonafide investor in quarry extraction at Kinzagu Village in Lugoba Ward.

He accuses them of planning to sign another contract with a different investor interested in the area instead of the previous one.

Mr Mwanga said this, when speaking at a meeting with villagers with a view to knowing the bonafide investor between Gulf Company, which is recognised in the district versus Globa Company and the fate of villagers over their compensation.

The DC, who accompanied by members of the district’s defence and security committee, wanted the referred to mineral office officials to stop confusing the villagers, saying the investor, recognised at regional, district, ward and village levels, was Gulf Company.

He blamed those officials for violating the villagers’ rights by using laws that they knew themselves, saying if two licences were used in the same area, then it was their problem and not the villagers’.

He noted that surveyors had already carried out a valuation of the villagers’ properties and the Gulf Company investor had agreed to pay compensation.

According to the DC, any time they will be notified, when compensation would start and then relocate to pave the way for quarry extraction activities.

For his part, an official from the East Zone Mineral Office, Mr Antony Ngolalumba, admitted to the DC that both investors owned quarry extraction licences in the area allocated by their office.

Land disputes are a perennial problem between investors and villagers in many parts of the country, yet no feasible solution has so far been found.

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South Africa: West Coast Phosphate Mine Stopped – for Now

By Ashleigh Furlong

Activists and state departments fear Elandsfontein mine could damage area

A new phosphate mine on the West Coast is being challenged by environmental activists and state departments who say the mine has been unlawfully established and fear it could damage the surrounding sensitive environment.

The Elandsfontein mine borders the West Coast National Park and is about 3km from where the fossilised remains of the Saldanha Man were found.

The mining company, previously known as Elandsfontein Exploration and Mining and now known as Kropz, managed to secure a mining licence in January 2015 and a water use licence in April 2017, despite strong opposition, including court action. Patrice Motsepe’s firm, African Rainbow Capital, owns a 25% share in the Elandsfontein mine. Kropz says the mine is situated on the second largest deposit of phosphate in South Africa and will create about 300 permanent jobs.

Kropz has now halted the commissioning of the mine for an “extended period” due, among other things, to “a long delay in the issuing of the mine’s water use licence, which has consequently impacted on the mine’s ability to access suitable ore required to achieve target rock phosphate concentrate grade”.

“The situation has been further aggravated by technical issues identified during commissioning, as well as the fact that current world rock phosphate prices have reached a ten-year low, decreasing by almost 30% since Elandsfontein was awarded its mining right,” said the mine in a statement.

The West Coast Environmental Protection Association has been fiercely opposed to the mine since its conception. The association is currently involved in a court application to review the granting of the mining right and is appealing against the granting of the water use licence in the Water Tribunal.

However, Kropz told GroundUp that it has not been notified by the Department of Water and Sanitation, of an appeal against the water use licence.

Minister of Environmental Affairs questions Kropz’s mining rights

Two recent appeals by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and West Coast Environmental Protection Association against approvals given to the mine have been dismissed by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa.

In both decisions, the minister said that she believed that the fact that the Department of Mineral Resources had granted a mining right to Kropz without Environmental Authorisation (EA), “casts doubt on the validity of the mining decision”.

She said that Kropz’s mining activity “was unlawful when it first commenced and continues to be unlawful to the extent that such mining activity is ongoing”.

But, because the review against the approval to mine was still ongoing and these particular appeals related to this, Molewa said that she had to decide this appeal on the basis that the approval was correct.

When asked about this, Michelle Lawrence, Technical Director for Kropz, said that “in law, all administrative decisions – such as a mining right – have legal consequences until they are reviewed and set aside by a competent court”. She said: “In this instance, the Minister of Mineral Resources must first review the decision of the Director General to grant the mining right before a competent court can review it.”

SANParks’ change of heart

SANParks, which manages the West Coast National Park, had initially objected to the granting of the water use licence, but later withdrew its objection. Its opposition was based on several specialists’ reports and consultations carried out over 12 months. “Extreme caution should be exercised in all proposed mining activities due to the very sensitive nature of the area,” SANParks said then.

SANParks said the mining activity would be in the buffer zone of the park. According to the West Coast National Park Management Plan for the period 2013-2023, Elandsfontein is located within the “buffer zone”.

According to the plan, “buffer zones” are areas outside the park but where land use change could have an effect on the park. The Elandsfontein area is seen as key to the “long term persistence of biodiversity in and around the park”.

However, Kropz says that “from a legal perspective” no buffer zones have been established around the park as the buffer zone has not been published in the Government Gazette, and so is not “official”.

SANParks also expressed concern about excess, contaminated water left over after Kropz had drained the area for mining: “There are major concerns about the possible creation of artificial wetlands in the park and the water not being returned to the aquifer as planned, thus potentially endangering the Langebaan Lagoon.”

SANParks has not responded to GroundUp’s questions about why the objections were withdrawn, despite numerous requests.

Concerns over fossils and fresh water

Elandsfontein farm is the site of numerous fossil discoveries. A report commissioned by Kropz on the possible effect of the mining activity on the fossils in the area states that unless measures are taken, mining will have a direct negative impact on the fossil content in the ground. But if measures are put in place to prevent the loss of fossils, the report says, that the impact will actually be positive as hidden fossils could be found.

However, the report states: “There remains a medium to high risk of valuable fossils being lost in spite of management actions to mitigate such loss.”

Another report commissioned by Kropz on how mining would affect fresh water in the area says that the only likely impact of the mine would be on the Langebaan Lagoon and that this was . “highly unlikely” due to the distance between the mine and the lagoon.

Concerns over mining since 2011

Even in the early days of the project, there was opposition from local environmental groups, residents and several state departments.

In 2011, the initial prospecting application was refused by the Department of Mineral Affairs because “the proposed prospecting activities fall within a Critical Biodiversity Area”.

Kropz appealed against this, claiming that the critical biodiversity areas “have not been adopted in terms of the National Environmental Management Act”. The Elandsfontein mining area is also not classified as “critically endangered” and is only classified as “vulnerable” according to the Act.

The Minister of Mineral Resources then granted the prospecting right in 2013.

In late 2014, the Environmental sub-directorate recommended rejecting Kropz’s application for a mining right, saying that “the granting of this right would only result in unacceptable pollution, avoidable ecological degradation or damage to the environment”.

The Department of Water Affairs was also “not in favour of mining rights being allowed… due to the impact on the ground water resources”.

The West Coast Environmental Protection Association has also strongly objected to the Saldanha Bay Municipality’s intention to use water from the aquifer and supply it to the mine, “to effectively circumvent the prohibition in the water use licence”.

Kropz said the company was investigating whether it could also supply water to the Municipality from the aquifer to assist the Municipality in the drought. The Municipality had appointed a hydrogeologist to investigate this.

Kropz said requests to meet with the chair of the West Coast Environmental Protection Association had been declined.

Australian Firm Gets Kanywataba Exploration License

By Alon Mwesigwa

Armour Energy Limited, an Australia-listed firm, has signed a production sharing agreement with Uganda to explore, develop and produce oil in the Kanywataba block in Ntoroko district.

The company becomes the first firm to receive an exploration license under the country’s new competitive bidding round.

Irene Muloni, the minister of Energy and Mineral Development, said government was still negotiating with other companies for the remaining blocks and they would be able to sign agreements soon.

Muloni told reporters at the energy ministry offices yesterday that sustained low oil prices affected the process of licensing, leading to protracted negotiations.

Under Uganda’s production sharing agreements, companies shoulder the entire cost, including risk of exploration. Companies are not entitled to any compensation if they hit a dry well.

Armour Energy CEO Roger Crissey said the firm had recently moved from being entirely focused on exploration to oil production as well. He said the company maintained a long-term investment outlook for Uganda.

Armour Energy Ltd says on its website that it was “focused on the discovery, development and production of world- class gas and associated liquids resources.”

The firm is also expected to conduct a seismic survey soon and drill at least one well.

“It will also pay royalty based on the gross total daily production in barrels of oil per day. The rate of royalty [will vary] from 8.5 per cent to 21 per cent,” Muloni said.

Production sharing will be based on the profitability of the project, she said. The company has paid government $316,000 (Shs 1.1bn) in signature bonuses, research and training fees and annual acreage rental fees.

Armour Energy Ltd has also paid a $990,000 (Shs 3.56bn) performance guarantee as 50 per cent of the minimum exploration expenditure for the first period. Cnooc drilled a single well in the Kanywataba block in May 2012, but did not strike oil. In October 2012, Cnooc relinquished the license to government.

Government said it was confident the block had hydrocarbons. Meanwhile, Muloni said they had agreed to issue Oranto Petroleum Ltd from Nigeria an exploration license over the Ngassa block.

Other companies expected to be given licenses are Waltersmith Petroman Oil Ltd. In the Albertine graben, nine production licenses have been issued to Total, Cnooc, and Tullow.

Muloni said the field development plans for the three discoveries of Jobi-East, Mpyo, and Lyec were being discussed between government and the licensees so that they can be issued production licenses.

Robert Kasande, the permanent secretary in the energy ministry, said the latest licensing round has seen the government develop a state-of-the-art data room, which remains open to industry players for viewing and purchasing data.

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South Africa: Mining Charter Halted Till After December

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has backed down for a second time on the controversial Mining Charter, after he undertook to halt implementation until arguments against the charter have been heard later this year. This is the second written undertaking the minister has given to avoid legal proceedings in respect of the reviewed Mining Charter, the Chamber of Mines said in a statement. As a result, the chamber has withdrawn its urgent interdict application against the charter, which was due to be argued on Thursday.

The chamber issued a statement late on Wednesday saying that it has withdrawn the urgent application to interdict Zwane from implementing the reviewed charter. On Thursday the Chamber of Mines and legal counsel representing Zwane presented the minister’s written undertaking to the court for noting, as a mere formality.

This comes after lawyers for Zwane promised the chamber that the minister would not implement the charter before an upcoming court case in mid-December.

The chamber will then present arguments in court as to why the charter should not be implemented. The case will be heard on December 13 and 14.

The chamber feared that Zwane could implement the controversial charter before the court case. However, Zwane has given the assurance that it would wait until December.

In a letter sent by Zwane’s legal counsel to the chamber on Wednesday, the minister undertakes to not “implement or apply the provisions of the 2017 Mining Charter in any way… pending the judgment of the review application”.

Zwane also promised to make reference to the fact that he would not implement the charter whenever it is mentioned by him in public, until the court case has been heard.

“The minister’s latest written undertaking now includes a commitment to provide clarity about his undertaking to suspend implementation whenever he discusses the charter in the public domain,” the chamber stated.

This should avoid confusion among foreign investors over whether the charter was already law, the chamber hoped.

The chamber, which promotes the interests of mining houses in South Africa, said the minister’s undertaking meant its interdict is no longer necessary.

The minister’s written undertaking is in stark contrast to the comments he made last week at the Africa DownUnder Conference in Perth, Australia, the chamber said.

“The minister told the international mining community that the Reviewed Mining Charter is ‘law’ and that companies have 12 months within which to comply with the charter,” the chamber said. Zwane’s comments caused further damage to investor confidence in an industry already struggling to secure investment, the chamber insisted. The chamber has been vocally critical of the charter, saying that, in its current form, it would “jeopardise the viability of an industry that is already under significant economic pressure”.

Key aspects of the charter include an increase in black economic empowerment shareholding of all mines from a previous 26% to 30%. In addition, 50% of all board members and executive management at mines must be black, while 70% of all mining goods and 80% of all services in the mining industry must be procured from BEE entities.

New mining rights are subject to a 1% revenue payment to BEE shareholders prior to any shareholder distribution.

Zwane has defended the charter, saying it is government’s prerogative to create laws and that the charter is a necessary tool to promote radical economic transformation.

Source: Fin24

Nigeria: Govt Urged to Enforce Mining Regulations

Stakeholders in the mining sector tuesday kick-started discussion on the future of the industry, with a call on the federal government to focus more on strengthening sector governance in order to fully realise its economic diversification plan through mining.

Strengthening the sector governance, according to them, would enable government to manage the available mineral resources and compete favourably in the global mineral and mining market.

The stakeholders spoke through different presentations at the opening session of the inaugural edition of the National Council on Mining and Mineral Resources Development (NCMMRD), which started in Abuja.

The opening session which was chaired by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Mohammed Abass, was attended by state commissioners and permanent secretaries of mining ministries, officials of the Federal Ministries of Environment, Justice and Defence, scholars, operators and representatives of financial institutions and host communities.

Speakers include renowned geologist and Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof Shehu Ibrahim Garba; Director, Artisanal and Small Scale Mining, Mr. Patrick Ojeka; Mr. Ebhota Al-Amin of the Mining Research/Policy Development of the MinDiver Office.

Others include Director, Mines Inspectorate, Mr. K.F. Wuyep; Prof Peter Akper of Equity Law Partners; and the Immediate Past President of Nigeria Mining and Geoscience Society (NMGS) /Chairman of Mining Implementation Strategy Team (MIST), Prof. Gbenga Okunlola.

The speakers laid the ground for discussion by participants at the event by identifying various obstacles bedevilling the growth of the sector. They also hailed the on going reform in the sector with its attendant growth.

Noting that the country has well structured mining laws, they are of the opinion that government needs to do more in the area of enforcement of existing laws and strengthening of institution in order to achieve excellent result.

They also urged government to tackle issues such as geoscience data, illegal and unauthorised exports of minerals, illegal issuance of mining licence by some state governments, defaulting in the payment of taxes and royalties and multiple taxation among others.

Garba, in his presentation, urged the federal government to ensure that MIRENCO was put to work

Al-Amin, in his presentation said mining has not been able to contribute meaningfully to the GDP because a good percentage of export in the sector remained unrecorded.

He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should be more involved in exportation of minerals, as it is done in other mineral-rich countries.

NAF Sustains Aerial Bombardments of Terrorists Hideouts

The Nigerian Air Force (NAFfor the fourth day running, has sustained of the ongoing intensive bombardment of Boko Haram terrorists hideouts in the Sambisa general area.

The NAF conducted air interdiction on a settlement in Njimia.

A statement by its Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, said: “NAF Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms had previously confirmed that several structures used by the terrorists as meeting points were in the location. The air interdiction was conducted by the Alpha Jet and F-7Ni aircraft, which took turns to attack the location with bombs. Subsequent Battle Damage Assessment showed that the targeted oko Haram terrorists structures were destroyed as a result of the attacks.

“The attacks were designed to further break the will and capability of the BHTs to regroup against own surface forces.”

Zimbabwe: Country So Rich it Can be Africa’s Best – UNDP Official

Zimbabwe can easily become the number one country in Africa in terms of per capita income but needed to put its house in order and ensure the country’s more than 40 mineral resources were extracted transparently to benefit all, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) official said.

UNDP Senior Economic Advisor, Amarakoon Bandara told New Zimbabwe in an interview in Harare that with the right attitude and robust infrastructure development, the country did not need to wait for IMF or World Bank assistance to turn around its economic fortunes.

“If I were Zimbabwean and I had an opportunity to turn around, I would not go to somebody else because you have got everything, you have the resources, what you don’t have at the moment is capital and technology.

Capital you may need to find it from outside because right now you are struggling; that is where I was saying you should tap into a win win scenario but nobody will come here if the policy environment is not conducive for them to come in and the property rights are not conducive for them.

And the policy mistakes, clarity on certain things and also consistency; you don’t make a policy decision today and change it in the next two months, I gives a very wrong signal,” said Bandara.

He added; “You have a huge number of mineral resources about 43 and almost on the top ten producers list for all of them. You don’t have to go outside for assistance. You have one of the highest literacy rates in the world but that is all wasted because all the best brains are going to the diaspora.”

Bandara said policy inconsistencies were driving away potential investors, both domestic and foreign, who he said needed assurances that their investments would be safe in the country.

“It can be looked at from several angles; one is in terms of policy I always feel that there is some action that needs to be taken in terms of clarifying certain policies as well as making it clear; consistency as well as coherence. Consistency in that whenever a country introduces policies, you can’t go back and forth because it might confuse investors, both domestic and foreign,” he said.

He said there was also need for institutional efficiency which contributed to the ease of doing business which resulted in low costs for the investors.

“It could be related to the cost of business related activities but at the same time the government also does business on its own, so if we can improve the efficiency it adds to the development process. It can also be related to the way we work; the efficiency of the way we work that relates to the human capital.

“We are not talking about people entering into the labour market with some education, but the efficiency in it. It is not just the number of people working; it is how much we are getting out of that labour, which I usually call the efficiency of labour. And for you to do all these things you need resources; that is labour and capital and then technology,” he said.

Bandara said Zimbabwe could generate its working capital from its many mineral resources, adding the country needed to learn from best practices from other countries on how to manage its natural resources.

“But in Zimbabwe, which is what I was trying to emphasize, that you have the resources but it is a question of how you manage them. You can learn from best practices elsewhere, there are so many examples outside Zimbabwe on how you can manage the resources of any kind,” he said.

“If these things are in place, there are people waiting on the sidelines, some people have spoken to us, as to the conditions we have but they do have some reservations that is the message I got. So what it means is that the opportunities are there, but then technology you don’t have so probably if you can have partners, depending on how you approach it, in the long run you can benefit,”

Bandara said foreign investors needed to be invited when there is proper accountability and transparency, noting that non-efficient institutions would run the risk of giving away the country’s natural resources that should be used in the country to foreigners.

He said a one stop shop was one way of reducing the cost of doing business.

Bandara noted that Zimbabwe could use its diaspora population to help turn around its economy, saying the paltry $800 million diaspora remittances were a far cry from what then country should be earning from its more than three million diasporas.

“The diaspora population is a huge plus for Zimbabwe because you have two to three million people working outside and if you get to the extreme you should be able to generate about $10 billion or more in terms of remittances provided that you have a system in place to protect their investments, ensure there is a fair return on their investments,” he said.

Bandara said there was need to build trust among those in the diaspora and signal them to invest back home.

“For the moment I feel the Zimbabweans are keeping their money in their respective countries where they work rather than sending the money to Zimbabwe because $800 million is peanuts from my point of view looking at my own country Sri Lanka which has a similar level of diaspora but we get 10 times more than Zimbabwe.

“This is the level you can think of, and that is also free money the remittances sent back is almost free. But you have to have the systems in place to exploit those resources,” he said.

Govt Sued Over Eviction of Mubende Gold Miners

Photo: Francis Mugerwa/Daily Monitor

Military police officers patrol mining sites in Mubende District after evicting artisanal miners recently.

By Jalira Namyalo

Kampala — The Uganda People’s Defence Forces and police are on the spot for allegedly invading and disrupting a mining business in breach of a licence in Kitumbi Sub-county, Mubende District.

In a case filed before the Commercial Court in Kampala last month, a group of miners have accused the government of interfering with their business operations.

Under their association, M/s Kitumbi-Kayonza Miners’ Association Limited, the miners are seeking court orders stopping government and its agents from interfering with their operations and withdrawal of armed forces from the area.

Documents indicate that in September 2014, Kitumbi-Kayonza Miners’ Association Limited, acquired three licences to carry out small scale mining. The licences were renewed for two years in September 2016.

Through their lawyers of Tugume-Byensi and Company Advocates, the miners allege that their operations were ceased basing on a presidential directive which stopped all illegal gold mining activities in Bukuya leaving no clear position on the fate of those who held valid location licences.

The miners alleged that efforts to seek audience from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and presenting licences to the commanders of the armed forces deployed in the mining areas have been ignored.

“… all the machinery and mining business equipment to date remain under seizure of the armed forces of government and the plaintiffs’ mining business has been put to halt illegally since August 4 and its workers are being intimidated, denied access to the said business premises and there is an imminent threat to destroy the mining equipment worth Shs2 billion,” reads in part the court documents.

They also want a court to declare government’s actions as illegal and amounting to breach of contract.

The miners argue that government should fully compensate them for their business.

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Tanzania: Mpango – Seized Diamond Undervalued By Sh33bn

By Gadiosa Lamtey

Dar es Salaam — The government yesterday revealed that the value of 71,840 carats (14.3 kilos) of smuggled diamond that was seized last month at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) stood at $29.5 million (about Sh65.7 billion) and not $14.7 million as declared by Petra Diamonds.

The diamond was impounded at the airport on August 31 while en route from Mwadui Diamond Mine to Belgium.

Speaking yesterday after receiving the report on behalf of the President John Magufuli, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, ordered the confiscation of the gemstones for violations of the East African Customs Management Act of 2004, section 210, subsection G.

The law reads in part: “In addition to any other circumstances in which goods are liable to forfeiture under this Act, the following goods shall be liable to forfeiture … any goods in respect of which, in any matter relating to the Customs, any entry, declaration, certificate, application or other document, answer, statement or representation, which is knowingly false or knowingly incorrect in any particular has been delivered, made or produced.”

“I am told that the under declared diamonds were impounded five minutes before the aircraft left the airport. We would have lost more than Sh2.2 billion in royalty,” Dr Mpango noted.

He further said that about 230,000 carats of diamonds are transported via JNIA annually.

Dr Mpango said it was disappointing that despite the government owning 25 per cent of Petra Diamonds Tanzania Limited it receives zero dividends.

“This is unacceptable,” Dr Mpango said.

“I want all security organs to investigate thoroughly the whole production and transport chain and identify all those government officials who have failed to perform their duties causing such losses to the government,” he noted.

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Tears, Misery Define Mubende Following Gold Diggers’ Eviction

By Christopher Tusiime

About three weeks ago, a joint force comprising Uganda Police and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) stormed mining camps in Kitumbi, Mubende district, to evict what the government termed as illegal miners.

The miners were given a two-hour ultimatum to carry their belongings and leave the area. On August 30, CHRISTOPHER TUSIIME went back to the district to assess the impact of the eviction.

It’s a cold Wednesday morning and I am travelling back to Mubende gold mines, about 30km off Kampala-Mubende highway.

The only slippery and potholed murram road that connects the main road to the mines is less busy. We drive through without much traffic as the case was during my maiden visit, two months ago.

However, a stopover at Lujinji trading centre reveals something new: the place is more congested but with no serious business taking place. People seated on verandahs in groups of about five to 10 can be heard telling stories.

Policemen clad in their heavy navy blue jackets, wielding fire-arms, can be seen almost in every corner of the place. I am forced to inquire what is taking place. Realising I am a journalist, many people surround me, with each trying to describe their predicament.

“We no longer have anything to do,” Sylvia Nakiyira, one of those people who used to sell water in the mines, says.

“All my 200 jerrycans were confiscated. I wasn’t allowed to take any out of the mines because the time they gave us was too little to collect our belongings,” Nakiyira said as she struggled to stay calm.

Nakiyira’s only source of income was from selling water to the people working in the mines. Each jerrycan, she says, could go for Shs 1,000. However, after the eviction, that was the end of her business.

To prove how life has turned out to be miserable, Nakiyira takes me to an incomplete structure without a roof where she sleeps with several other people who were evicted.

“I currently sleep here with my daughter. We have nowhere to go. All these people you are seeing here sleep with us in this roofless church. Others sleep on the verandah of those houses you are seeing outside,” Nakiyira adds before she breaks down into tears.

Abdul Hakim is more worried than Nakiyira. He had bought land from where he could carry out farming and rent the remaining lot to miners. All that is now gone.

“I had bought a plot of land of 11 hectares near the mines there. But they chased me out. I had also bought several other plots between Shs 3m and Shs 4m but I don’t have access to them now. The soldiers told us to leave immediately,” a visibly sad Hakim says.

Hakim, who is currently living in his small house which he had constructed with the money he had acquired from the tenants on his land, is worried he may fail to look after his family.

“My nine children are there. Very soon they will be out of school because there is no money. The bricks you see behind that house were for constructing a bigger house but I won’t manage that now,” Hakim says.

Hakim says before the eviction, he had more than 20 goats. Currently, only three are remaining. In his view, they could have been stolen by the several unemployed youths who have since remained in the area.

Bernard Ssemuyaba is equally stranded. Aged 34, Ssemuyaba is now considering taking back the land he had offered for the construction of a church because he is afraid his large family may soon become too expensive to look after.

He says he was born in the area even before the mining firms got the mining leases and exploration licenses. But he is shocked he is being evicted without any compensation.

For Abel (not real name), who had come from Kampala to exploit the golden opportunities Mubende offered, life will never be the same.

“I can’t move anywhere at this time of the day. In July, someone lent me about Shs 50m, which I immediately invested in the mining pits. A few days later, we were evicted. Now, the man wants me arrested because he wants his money yet I don’t have it,” Abel said.

As a result of the misery, a number of stories are flying around Mubende. One of the severally told stories in all areas around the mines is that bulldozers covering the pits have buried many miners inside.

BURIED ALIVE?

Joseph Kibira, a landlord in a gold mine called Kampala, said he has information some people were buried alive. He says on August 25, at around 2pm, one of the bulldozers tried to cover a pit that belonged to a one Caleb.

Kibira says some people had thought that this pit could not be covered that day and had stealthy entered to continue with their mining.

“It is one of the oldest pits… As the second bulldozer was being brought, one person was seen running out of the pit,” Kibira recounts.

He says a few minutes after the incident, another miner ran out of the pit.

“It is those two who later told me that there were between 10 and 20 people inside.”

We could not independently verify this information. However, Colonel Joseph Balikuddembe, the commander of the operation to evict the miners, who had declined to discuss the matter, said such an incident of burying miners alive could not have happened.

“But how can me a human being bury another human being when he or she is still alive? That’s impossible,” Balikuddembe said.

Pressed for more information about the issue and the whole operation, Col Balikuddembe who is also the UPDF first division commander, simply drove away.

Now that Col Balikuddembewas leaving the mines for a meeting in Kampala, his colleague, a one Col James Kasule, remained.

DEMOLISHED STRUCTURES

After a long stay at the blocked and well-guarded entrance, since no one, including journalists, is allowed to enter, I am finally let inside. Here, tattered blue tarpaulins and shiny corrugated iron sheets covered the mines. Several bulldozers can be seen bringing down a few remaining structures.

“We are simply enforcing an eviction by government, and not UPDF,” says Kasule. “People shouldn’t hate us… when we came, we didn’t slap anyone. We didn’t beat anyone. We simply told people to vacate.”

Kasule says they are currently working around the clock to en- sure the property that was left behind can be picked by rightful owners. He adds that this process is easy as one only needs an LC-I letter with receipts of the property in question.

He argues that many people have already picked their properties even though some that I interviewed say they couldn’t pick them because they even lost the receipts they were given at the time of buying.

According to an August 4 letter from the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development that was issued by the then permanent secretary, Stephen Isabalija, the eviction was meant to eliminate non-Ugandans from the business.

He argued that Ugandan artisanal miners would be called back after three months from the time the eviction started.

However, to many miners, this isn’t possible because one can’t call back people who were not registered. The miners want government to reconsider its position and allow them back into their business because it was their only source of income.

They also blame President Museveni for all their woes because they say it’s him who, during the 2011 and 2016 presidential campaigns, asked them to go on with their business before promising a gold refinery too.

South Africa: Minister Zwane Calls On Mining Sector to Prioritise Health and Safety

press release

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane (MP) has appealed for extra caution to be taken on health and safety in the mines. This follows a fall of ground accident at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine over the weekend, where three employees have unfortunately lost their lives.

“We are concerned about the accidents we are seeing in the industry. As we head towards the last quarter of the year, we are asking that employers and the workforce remain alert and continue to prioritise safety, and as the Regulator we will be increasing inspections,” Minister Zwane said.

“We continue to engage with business and labour unions to look at how we can together ensure that the positive strides we have made on health and safety are not reversed,” the Minister said. Seven workers were trapped underground after a seismic event led to the fall of ground. Two of the employees escaped with minor injuries.

The rescue operation for the remaining two workers continues.

Issued by: Department of Mineral Resources

South Africa

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