Govt maintains ban on export of raw minerals

Delegates to the 27th ICGLR Committee meeting on combating illegal exploitation of natural resources. The Minister of State for Energy Peter Lokeris (front row, 2nd left)

Kampala, (UG): The Minister of State for Energy Peter Lokeris has restated that the government’s ban on unrefined minerals, which was imposed in February 2015 by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, will not be lifted.

Minister Lokeris explained that Museveni imposed a moratorium on the export of unprocessed iron ore and other minerals in a bid to spur the growth of local industries through value addition and create employment opportunities for Ugandans.

For that reason, Lokeris, who was officiating at the launch of the 27th International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Committee meeting on combating illegal exploitation of natural resources at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, reiterated that the government’s ban will stay.

The purpose of the ICGLR Mineral Tracking and Certification Scheme is to provide for sustainable conflict-free mineral chains between member states to eliminate support to armed groups that sustain conflict and related human rights abuses.

Irene Pauline Bateebe, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development says attaining a ICGLR Certificate underscores Uganda’s commitment to put in place regional and international market requirements on transparent mineral trade to curb the illegal exploitation of natural resources.

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Bateebe pointed out that so far, the ministry has already formalized the artisanal mining sector by establishing a biometric registration system for miners in the country, and constructed several mineral beneficiation centres among other measures to help the government achieve its value-addition targets.

Meanwhile, Ambassador João Samuel Caholo, the Executive Secretary of ICGLR commended Uganda for being the 5th model Member State of the 12 riparian countries which attained the certificate after ratifying the protocol on the fight against illegal exploitation of natural resources in the region.

The issuance of a ICGLR Certificate was introduced as part of the Implementation of the Pact on Security, Stability, and Development as enshrined in the Great Lakes Region Act 11 of 2018 to prevent the illegal exploitation of and illicit trade in designated minerals.

Of the 12 riparian countries, Uganda now becomes the 5th member state to get the issuance of the certificate status after DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania while six other Member States – Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan and Central African Republic – CAR are yet to do the same.

The Great Lakes Region got the relevant force of law in Uganda through the Mining and Minerals Act, of 2022 which provides for the illegal exploitation of and illicit trade in designated minerals such as gold, cassiterite, wolframite, and coltan originating in the territory of the Member States, that are subject to the provisions of the ICGLR Mineral Tracking and Certification Scheme.

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According to the Natural Resource Governance Institute, several industrial minerals such as cobalt, copper, gold, iron ore, tantalite, steel, and lithium among others form up Uganda’s extractive sector.

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