By: Ismael Kasooha
The government of Uganda has lifted the ban on mining activities for Rwenzori Rare Metals (RRM) in Busoga sub regions.
In May this year, the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja, ordered the cessation of the activities of Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited to extract rare earth minerals in the country.
The matter was raised by Members of Parliament from Busoga over the strangers who were in their area doing exploration and the locals feared that they had come to steal their land.
During a meeting chaired by Nabbanja at the Office of the Prime Minister, it was resolved that the ban on activities of Rwenzori Rare Metals Ltd be lifted so that they can go on with the exploration.
Nabbanja said that the stakeholders meeting resolved on a number of issues aimed at protecting the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and also ensure economic value of the mining project.
“We have resolved that we Lift the ban so that activities can continue, sensitize the communities about the valuation process, a decision should be taken by NEMA on the environment and social impact statement, review the MOU between RRM and the land owners and RRM to sign an MOU with the land owners before issuance of mining lease,” said Nabbanja.
The other issues resolved included:
- Issuance of a mining lease following the assent to the new mining and mineral law by H.E the President;
- Consideration to use hydropower through the national grid as opposed to establishment of a solar power plant for the project;
- Continuous involvement of leaders at all levels all the time;
- Emphasis should be put on value addition as it is government policy.;
- Project should to improve social services in the area, especially water, health, education, electricity and roads;
- Compensation and resettlement of PAPs should be done in accordance with the law and PAPs should have their land titled in the course of the exercise;
- Establishment of a training and research institute in the area to build capacity of the local communities and establish a relevant course at universities like Busitema, Busoga universities to equip people with relevant skills (Rare Earth) in the mid-term;
Hon. Dr. Peter Lokeris, Minister of State for Minerals, said that this project has the potential to improve the livelihoods of the people of Busoga.
“This project has the potential to improve the livelihoods of the people in Busoga either directly or indirectly, “said Lokeris.
For community development, there is a planned investment of 1-2m US Dollars annually to improve on health, water, road infrastructure and education.
An independent valuation of the project from the Project Economic Assessment Report produced in March 2021 showed that the Project would have an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 40.3% and is being assessed as part of the feasibility study being undertaken.
Over 7.64bn US Dollars is expected as revenue from the mining in the 27-year project period.
Rt. Hon. Justine Kasule Lumumba, the Minister in charge of General Duties in the Prime Minister’s office said that local content should be prioritized in the implementation of this project.
“Whenever we have investments in this country, especially in the Ministry of Energy, we have not performed well in terms of local content. So there is a need to build the capacity of the people so that they can benefit more from such projects,” said Lumumba.
Hon. Abdu Katuntu, one of the Members of Parliament from Busoga said that they had rejected the project because the investors had not involved the local leaders and the government was not seen to be part of the process.
Warren Tregurtha, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwenzori Rare Metals said that they were happy that the government had lifted the ban on their activities.
Rwenzori Rare Metals (RRM) Limited is a private Ugandan company developing the “Makuutu Rare Earths Project” across the districts of Bugweri, Bugiri and Mayuge.