Gold in Uganda
Gold in Uganda still remains one of the world’s most treasured mineral resources. It is of no doubt that its wide distribution and extraction continues to benefit different nations worldwide today. Exploitation of valuable minerals like gold in Uganda plays a significant part especially in areas with scarcity looking at economic point of view.
Due to limited diversity, mining becomes the next available economic alternative for people in such places. Uganda in particular is blessed with so many gold deposits and their availability has impacted positively to the lives of local residents though this has always come with conflicts.
History of gold in Uganda
Gold in Uganda is the early days
Gold mining in Uganda has been on the increase for years. Uganda had its first case of gold production recorded in 1992 and around 2002, an estimate of 56kgs of gold in Uganda was produced. Today, sales of gold in Uganda have recorded a tremendous rise of about 30% of the country’s export revenue. In 2016, Uganda exported gold worth US Dollars 514 million. Uganda boasts of many gold deposits widely spread across the country. This presents many investment opportunities to investors in gold mining.
Most of the gold in Uganda comes from Busia, Mubende, Karamoja, Kigezi and Buhweju. Previously, the mining was conducted on a small-scale especially around Buhweju basin. Recently, some international mining companies showed interest in Uganda to invest a substantial capital in the mining industry. This resulted into increase in production of gold in Uganda which is a positive indicator for Uganda’s mining sector.
Extraction of gold in Uganda can be traced back to thousands of years. Most of the indigenous miners carried out gold mining on a very small scale mostly around the river basins. But later, the Spanish and Portuguese slave traders intruded into the area hence increased interest in gold. It should be noted that most of the fine gold in Uganda that comes from most of its deposits originates from the river gravels.
Gold mining in the past century and politics
Instability in Uganda in the past slowed development in the country as a whole. Still, this has been the case even in the recent times. Even from 19th to 20th century, Uganda wasn’t an attractive business destination. There was limited interest from outside investors.
Amazingly, things began to change in 1986 when H.E. Yoweri Museveni took over power. Political stability in Uganda was realized. As a result, it has and still attracts more international mining companies to obtain gold exploration licenses. To the large mining firms, this was something positive yet also to the small-scale miners (natives in particular), it is less positive.
When large companies came to board, Kanungu, Mubende and Busia were some of the earliest gold deposits. Later, Busitema and Kisita gold mines were established. Regardless of the coming of large mines on board, the small-scale mining continued in various areas in Uganda. It should be noted that Uganda still has many other untapped gold deposits yet to be mined since most of them are still being mined using ancient techniques.
Any potential miner who wishes to join mining sector to mine gold in Uganda should have a license which is annually renewal. However, there are also other special licenses miners are required to obtain and these can be renewed after 20 years. Note, all these documents are provided to potential prospectors via the Ministry of Environment.
Mining sector in Uganda today
Mining sector in Uganda has become vibrant today with gold mining being the biggest player. Currently, Vangold is Uganda’s largest miner and conducts its gold mining explorations using 2 main subsidiaries; the Dome mines Ltd, Rwenzori Cu and Ni Ltd and Trade Panel International Limited a leading licensed gold dealer in Uganda.. It is known for conducting prospecting activities along the West Nile Area. This region includes the greenstone belt in Uganda and this area is popular as Kilo Moto gold fields on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) side.
Other than Vangold, there are also other players when it comes to mining of gold in Uganda. They include Ghana’s Blaze Metal Resources Ashanti which operates in the Eastern districts especially Bugiri and Namayingo. These areas are also credited for their diverse gold deposits.
Potential of gold mining in Uganda
While the growing mining industry is considerably good for the large companies flocking into Uganda to explore and work on the gold reserves, on the other hand, it doesn’t favor an average miner within Uganda. This is because most of the mining areas attracted mostly local miners who used traditional methods to extract gold in Uganda. Fortunately, or unfortunately, these mines are being claimed by the big multinational companies, forcing smaller miners out of those areas.
Generally, mining of gold in Uganda has a huge potential to expand her total gold production. But there is still a challenge of local residents who still use traditional methods and they aren’t willing to give up their land to commercial gold mining in areas with gold in Uganda. Instead, they are forcibly removed from the mining areas to allow for commercial operations.
However, before being allowed to mine gold in Uganda, interested companies should make assurance of giving back to the community. This can be done in different ways; through building of health facilities, schools and others. While such assurances or promises are made, small-scale miners are left out as they still face challenges to obtain permits to mine gold in Uganda. This gives opportunity to big companies to take advantage of country’s loopholes in the mining law not to pay taxes.
Gold production in Uganda
In 2017, Uganda gold production was recorded at 1800kgs. This decreased from 3000kgs for December 2016.
Does Uganda import gold from D.R. Congo?
Yes, Uganda does import some of the gold from its neighboring region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo but not in large quantities. It is later exported to Europe. Most of the gold in Uganda is also exported to the Middle East and gold features among the country’s leading foreign exchange earners.
Where to find gold in Uganda?
Mining of gold in Uganda is largely done in a few places especially Mubende, Kigezi, Ibanda and Buhweju (to the west), Karamoja (to the Northeast), Namayingo and Busia (Eastern Uganda), Kitumbi (Central Uganda).
How to obtain an export license in Uganda?
To be part of exporters for gold in Uganda, an export license/mineral export permit is a must-have and it can be obtained from Uganda Registration Services Bureau or visit www.ursb.go.ug. Upon completing registration, you will get a Certificate of Registration of Business Name (applying for local companies) or Certificate of Registration (for foreign companies).