Gold production in Uganda has radically increased in the recent past. Today gold sales contribute about 30% of Uganda’s export revenue. With gold deposits spread across the country, Uganda offers companies a great opportunity to invest in gold mining.
Uganda’s Gold Mining Regions
So far, exploitation of gold in the country has been concentrated in a few areas such as Karamoja, Kigezi, Busia, Mubende and Buhweju. Most of the gold mined in the past was on a small-scale in the Buhweju basin. However, there has been an increase in the number of big multinational businesses coming in during the past few years. This shows the growing industry and bright future that Uganda has for mining.
Gold mining in Uganda started in the 1920s with the locals carrying out small-scale gold mining along the river basins. This continued well into 1980s as a result of the political upheavals that followed immediately when the country attained its independence. But, with the coming to power of President Yoweri Museveni in 1986 that stabilized the politics of the country, many international companies started seeking gold exploration licenses to prospect for gold in the country.
Some of the earliest gold discoveries include the Mubende district, Kanungu district and Busia district among others while some of the early mines that were established in the country were the Busitema gold mine and the Kisita Gold Mine. Most of the gold mining in Uganda is still done by small-scale artisans, as has been the case for years.
Most areas have not been properly explored for the purposes of commercial mining. This leaves most gold rich areas to artisans who use traditional methods to mine gold. This shows the great potential that this country offers since there is so much country yet to be surveyed by competent geologists.
Gold mining in Uganda is governed by the mineral act. To start mining you need to acquire a number of licenses. For example to explore for gold you need a prospecting license which has to be renewed yearly although there some special mining licenses that last for up to 20 years. The ministry of environment gives out the licenses.
Active Mining Companies in Uganda
Today there are several multinational companies prospecting and mining gold in Uganda. Vangold is the largest international player in Uganda’s gold industry at the moment. With Uganda’s welcoming environment for international investors in the gold mining sector, Vangold carries out its mining activities through two main subsidiaries, the Dome Mines Ltd and the Rwenzori Cu&Ni Ltd.
Vangold has the license to prospect for gold in the West Nile region. This covers the greenstone belt on the Ugandan side of the Kilo Moto gold fields in the democratic republic of Congo. The region has shown high prospects in the recent past especially after the discovery of the continuation of the Kibalian host rocks that contain gold in the Kilo-Moto on the DRC side of the border.
The Ghana’s Blaze Metal Resources Ashanti is also another important player in the gold mining industry. The company is carrying out gold prospecting in Uganda’s eastern districts of Namayingo and Bugiri. Date from the department of Geology Survey and Mines shows that there are gold deposits in the districts and this has made prospecting in the area a very hopeful endeavor. The exploration is expected to last for about five years when the mining is supposed to commence.
Informal and unregulated mining operations are common throughout Uganda. These are areas that are being actively mined by Ugandans that are not part of a commercial mining operation. Most miners recover just a few dollars in gold each day using primitive placer mining techniques.
The Rupa Gold Mine is one of the informal mining operations. It is located a short distance north of Moroto Town in the Karamoja Region. Some estimates have stated that as many as 10,000 miners work this site to support themselves.
Future interest in mining for gold in this region has been met with some resistance due to fears from locals that large mining operations would affect their current mining efforts and livelihood.