Government to set up mineral exploration department

Speaking at the 5th Mineral Wealth Conference in Kampala yesterday, President Museveni said the government could no longer wait for investors to carry out exploration just like the petroleum sector did in 1986.

Kampala. The government is planning to set up a mineral exploration department in the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) to boost mining investments in the country.

Speaking at the 5th Mineral Wealth Conference in Kampala yesterday, President Museveni said the government could no longer wait for investors to carry out exploration just like the petroleum sector did in 1986.

“Therefore, on the issue of minerals, that is what we have decided to do. Go back to 1986 and say look here, let us do the thing (exploration) ourselves,” he said.

According to the President, the involvement of the government at the exploration stage is because the risk is still considered to be high.

“The government getting involved doesn’t mean we are excluding private people from being involved in exploration. It only means we cannot sit helplessly forever. We also want our people to be conversant with this industry so that when these private companies are operating, they will know what they are doing just like we did for the petroleum industry,” Mr Museveni said.

Currently, the DGSM has no department that carries out exploration. According to a survey, the only data provided by the department is from the mapping of Uganda’s mineral potential.
The survey was conducted in 80 per cent of the country and excluded Karamoja sub-region. It is this data that is given to investors who want to carry out exploration.
However, what DGSM has been getting are speculators instead of investors willing to spend their money on actual exploration.

“This department will be responsible for appraising the known mineral potential such that when investors come, they find basic information rather than spending money and most of the work has been done. They will find well-cooked food available and for them, they should start going into mining,” Mr Edwards Katto, a commissioner at DGSM, said.
The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum is on the drive seeking exploration investment in the mining sector valued at Shs340 billion.

Timely venture
According to Mr Richard Kaijuka, the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum vice president, currently the country has nothing to show for its mineral potential. “Why would the big players be here when the government has not spent money to define the resource? Those big players have no time to waste. It is not until definitive resources have been defined to determine whether or not it commercially viable that the big players will come in,” he said.
“If you look at Busitema and Kisita, they are all limping. That is why we do not have big players. The problem is not that we don’t have the resources, but because we lack focus,” MrKaijuka added

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