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Uganda ASM Profile

Political Economy & Strategic Standpoints | Social and Environmental Factors | Local linkages | ASM Sites in Uganda

Uganda is endowed with over 50 different types of minerals and ranks among African countries with the biggest number of minerals although the potential for viable exploitation has not yet been established for most of them. The Ugandan mining industry peaked in the 1950’s and 1960’s when the sector accounted for up to 30% of Uganda’s export earnings according to the Ugandan Investment Authority in 2017. In 2017 mining and quarrying accounted for 0.6% of the GDP according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2017.

Gold is Uganda’s second largest export after coffee, most gold production has been by small producers who include unlicensed and licensed miners and artisans. According to the Bank of Uganda's, 2015/16 annual report, gold exports’ value during the financial year rose to $204million from just $230,000 in the 2014/15 financial year. Almost all the gold is mined and exported in ways that have the government prioritizing pledges to formalize the sector.

Informality raises issues related to smuggling, revenue loss, child labour, human rights abuse, environmental and human health concerns. Reports indicate evidence of children working in Uganda’s ASM sector, to the alarming tune of 20% to 30% of all miners. Exploitation of gold in the country has been concentrated in a few areas such as Kigezi, Mubende, Karamoja in northeastern Uganda, Buhweju and Ibanda in the West, Namayingo and Busia in eastern Uganda, Kitumbi in Central Uganda

Prospects of improved livelihoods from ASM attracts a large number of unemployed youth. Artisanal miners involuntarily act as pathfinders to large scale gold mining (LSM). Communities affected have raised some issues on that subject and a lack of Prior Informed Consent is apparent with LSM companies that obtained licenses.

Country Mining Vision Status

CMV Processes Underway.

Policies, Laws and Regulations Currently in Effect

Uganda Mining Act 2003

Main ASM Associations/Cooperatives

I. SAMA: Syanyonja Artisan Miners Alliance

II. TSSMA: Tiira Small Scale Mining Association (Fairtrade)

ASM Definition Criterion

Capital investment; nationality; mechanization

ASM Licensing

Artisanal: YES

Small Scale Mining: YES

ASM Minerals or Metals Exploited

Precious Metals Gold, Silver

Base Metals Wolfram, Tantalite, Kaolin, Pumice, Limestone

Precious Stones Iron ore, lead, steel, Cobalt, Beryl

Diamonds, Gemstones (Sapphires, Rubies) Phosphate, Chromium, Rare Earth Elements


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Mining Code Provisions for Women in ASM

Uganda Mining act 2003, Part XII Miscellaneous provisions, Section 114. Underground work for women

“Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, a woman may be employed in any underground work in any mine or in any operation or activity relating to or associated with mining”

Mineral Policy of Uganda:

Vision: To attract investment, build capacity for acquisition and utilisation of geodata and increase mineral production for social and economic development of Uganda.

Policy Statement: Provide conditions conducive to private investment for exploration and mining development with the private sector providing the necessary management, technical and financial resource.

Issue: poor investments in the sector and adverse social and environmental impacts.

Policy Goal:

Develop the mineral sector to enable it to contribute to sustainable economic and social growth by creating gainful employment and income, particularly to the rural population.

Policy Objective:

I. stimulate investment in the mineral sector by promoting private participation;

II. ensure that mineral wealth supports national economic and social development;

III. regularize and improve artisanal and small scale mining;

IV. stimulate and mitigate the adverse social and environmental impacts of mineral exploitation;

V. remove restrictive practices on women participation in the mineral sector and protect children against mining hazards;

VI. develop and strengthen local capacity for mineral development; and

VII. regularize and improve artisanal and small scale mining;

(Policy Environment):

The legal and policy framework is governed by: The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the Mineral Policy (2001), the Mining Act (2003) and the Mining Regulations (2004). Other laws on the environment, tax and land affect the management of mining resources. The policy provides conducive, stable, predictable, legal and fiscal environments to attract foreign and local investment for exploration and mine development.
Recognising ASM’s place in rural poverty alleviation, the Uganda government has taken a positive stance towards the activity. Encouraging and facilitating the creation of associations and other organisations in order to improve capacity to produce and market their mineral commodities. The government is also applying light-handed regulations in ASM to encourage formalisation and communication and better address issues surrounding the sector. Overall the mineral policy is very people centered and recognises the sector’s potential to bring development and modernity in Uganda.

Finance and credit

Medium scale mining receives a number of credit support programs targeted at promoting investment in the sector. However, no similar programs are available to artisanal miners, most do not own a bank account but can use personal assets as collateral. Due to the high risk nature of the activity loans are given with high interest rates sometimes exceeding 20%.

Extension services - a phased approach to integration and capacity-building

In Uganda, the value addition is still at the rudimentary stage with jewelry production from gold and gem cutting. However, it is also diverse thanks to the government’s efforts in promoting value addition of mineral products. Activities include:

• Cement manufacturing for local consumption and export;

• Cutting and polishing stone (like granite, marble and quartzite);

• Making ventilation bricks, tiles, charcoal stoves and other ceramics;

• Carving stone (like marble) into candle holders, sculptures, ashtrays and other products.

Community development is important to the Ugandan government and has been involved in SMMRP (Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project) Training and Awareness Campaigns for Artisanal and Small Scale Miners. This resulted in the establishment of the Training and Awareness Campaign Committee (TACC) formed of 22 members. TACC is involved with conducting gender based audits and offering training (business skills, health and safety, geology etc…) in ASM. TACC is also active in knowledge creation and dissemination with the creation of a Small Scale Mining Handbook and organization of various workshops.

Marketing and quality

There have been various projects on the improvement of conditions in artisanal mining, such as the Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources project of the World Bank and the Fairtrade Gold Project. The Syanyonja Artisan Miners Alliance (SAMA) is the first mining cooperative in Africa to become Fairtrade certified. This aims to guarantee certified miners more security and financial stability through the Fairtrade premium.
Uganda is amongst the pilot Fairtrade countries within East Africa in particular Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda – so as to achieve critical mass adoption of achieving Fairtrade certification. The Fairmined Standard for Gold and Associated Precious Metals was developed by Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and aims to support sustainable development of ASM communities. The standard includes requirements for ASM organisations to operate in a responsible way; formal and legal mining operations; environmental protection; labour conditions; traceability of Fairmined minerals; and socio‐economic development through the Fairmined Premium. It also outlines market models and requirements for market actors (Fairmined Operators).

Value addition of gold is currently being done through Uganda’s latest gold refinery the Africa Gold Refinery (AGR), in Entebbe which has been operating since 2014. Refined gold products naturally fetch a higher value when exported than the unprocessed gold.