Please tell us your name and your position in the association?
I am Bukya John Bosco, the chairperson of the Uganda Association of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (UGAASM), and also the chairperson of Mubende Miners Assembly, which hosts over 23 mining associations. The Uganda Association of Artisanal and
Small-scale Miners, on the other hand, hosts over 65 mining associations across the country.
What exactly do you do in this association?
My major role in this association is to ensure that we achieve our set objectives, and of course one of them is to make sure we organize all the artisanal and small-scale miners in Uganda.
Tell us about ASM in Uganda?
Artisanal mining in Uganda started many years back even before this country got independence but it was unregulated. Then there was a gold rush in Mubende between 2013 and 2016, and there was unregulated gold mining.
This forced government to evict the unregulated miners in Mubende then. There was loss of property, incomes, livelihoods and the rest. We decided to form an umbrella, and it was out of that experience that we also formed the Uganda Association of Artisanal and Small Scale miners.
This association will see all the artisanal and small scale miners across the country united, working harmoniously with government and also regulated by government.
There is a view out there that artisanal mining is not serious business. What do you make of it?
Artisanal mining if properly managed can become a lucrative business where people can earn and improve their livelihoods and household incomes. I have seen miners in Mubende who would earn at one point, more than 20m per day. This is serious business. The only challenge is that government has not been recognising that ASM can develop the mining sector if properly managed.
The major challenge for ASMs has been lack of organisation, but now we are trying to address that through our association. When we organize them, they will do more lucrative business than before. Another challenge has been lack of recognition by government, we are happy that to a given extent, government has recognised the role ASM can play in developing the mining sector.
Government has in the past made promises and not fulfilled them. How sure are you it will not backtrack?
Government has been making promises to the wrong people because you cannot make promises to people you have not organised. We are now working with government to organise ASMs. It is evident in the biometric registration exercise, which was commissioned by government in March this year that government is now interested in knowing how many miners we have in the country, and where they are. Once we know the number, then planning, regulating and coordinating will be very easy and very possible.
For example, in Mubende, government made some pledges that have been fulfilled. We were promised that we would be given mining land and I am happy that government has issued over 23 location mining licenses to the ASMs in Mubende. We want these to roll over the whole country.
We understand there are some challenges in Buhweju with the Chinese, and I think the ASMs there will also be given licenses very soon. If we can organise our miners with government, and have them regulated, and give them licenses, they will be able to pay taxes and significantly contribute to the national budget.
What do you make of the ASM-Q conference that ACEMP is organising?
The conference is a good move. I have worked with ACEMP, for the last 2 years and we have been organising such conferences where we see all the miners across the country or at least their leaders come together for planning and seeing how the sector can be improved. I understand this time we are even having an exhibition because we have some ASMs who have licenses, gold and other mineral products
and commodities to exhibit. It is similar to the mining Indaba, where miners, investors and policy makers from across the globe meet to discuss business. We can also do the same for ASMs in this country.
What is your message to people attending this conference?
My message to people attending this conference is that they should support the cause of developing the ASMs and recognising them in the mining sector as major contributors to the development of the sector.