The minerals sector is set to play a significant role in Uganda’s future, as stated by Minister Peter Lokeris. The implementation of new laws is expected to drive growth in this sector.
Kampala, Uganda – The government plans to increase job opportunities in the minerals sector by 63%, reaching 2.6 million by the fiscal year 2024/2025, up from the 1.6 million reported in 2017/2018. This announcement was made by Peter Lokeris, the State Minister of Minerals at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, during a workshop in Kampala on August 29. Lokeris emphasized Uganda’s potential for minerals, with a geologically favorable environment for world-class economic mineral deposits.
He pointed out that Uganda has discovered various mineral resources, including copper, nickel, gold, chromite, iron ores, tin, tantalite, tungsten, limestone, marble, graphite, gemstones, and rare earth minerals. These discoveries have attracted substantial Foreign Direct Investment, increasing from $5 million in 2003 to over $800 million in 2017.
Moreover, non-tax revenue from license fees, annual mineral rent, and royalties has seen significant growth, rising from approximately Shs1.8 billion in 2003 to Shs11.3 billion in the fiscal year 2022/2023.
Uganda’s Vision 2040 outlines the minerals sector as a key driver of employment and GDP growth. Minister Lokeris emphasized the importance of planning and investing in mineral development to harness the sector’s potential benefits, including revenue generation, job creation, and positive impacts on other sectors like industrialization, agriculture, and human capital development.
Over the years, investment in the mineral sector has surged, evident in the increasing number of licenses granted by the government. Mineral licenses have grown from around 100 in 2003 to 556 as of June 2023, including 249 exploration licenses, eight retention licenses, 48 mining leases, and 76 location licenses. This uptick in licenses has translated into higher income and revenue from the sector.
Minister Lokeris also disclosed the government’s plans to launch the Mineral Resources Infrastructure Development Project (MRIP) from 2023 to 2028. This project aims to establish vital infrastructure for monitoring and regulating exploration and mining activities in the country.
Furthermore, the government is collaborating with partners like planetGOLD to reduce mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining and improve the well-being of local mining communities. New gold deposits have been identified in various parts of the country, including Buhweju, Mubende, Namayingo, Karamoja, and Zombo districts.
The Makuutu Rare Earth Project estimates over 500 million tonnes of Rare Earth Elements in Eastern Uganda, potentially elevating Uganda’s global standing in REE production after China.
Reserves of high-quality vermiculite in Namekhara, Manafwa District, have increased from 5 million tonnes to 54.9 million tonnes. The government has also completed phase one of an airborne geophysical survey in the Karamoja and Lamwo regions, enhancing geological data.
In 2019, the online mining Cadastre and Registry System and Transaction Portal were established to manage mineral rights, including licensing, communication, reporting, and payments. Currently, an upgrade is underway to align the system with new laws for increased transparency.
The Ministry initiated Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASM) biometric registration in December 2021 to streamline operations and boost revenues. Other initiatives include zoning artisanal mining areas, formalization, training, and extension services for artisanal miners.
Uganda has also become a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, enhancing transparency and management in the sector.