The Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) has opened a Regional Office for the Karamoja Region, a move aimed at bringing geological and mining services closer to the people of Karamoja Region.
Based in Natumkathikou within Moroto town, the office will serve the other districts of Karamoja namely Amudat, Abim, Kabong, Nakapiripirit, Napak and Kotido. Its construction was entirely funded by the Government of Uganda while Moroto District land Board donated the land measuring approximately 25 decimals.
According to Mines Commissioner Agnes Alaba, the Regional Office will host a mineral beneficiation center that will among other services offer gemstone cutting facilities, a simple laboratory as well as staff to advise the public and facilitate investment in the Region’s mineral resources. “We expect this facility to develop the sector,” she said. “We know there is great potential.”
Karamoja remains possibly the most endowed area in Uganda hosting a big portion of the country’s minerals ranging from gold, iron ore, silver and copper, to gemstones, limestone, marble, rubies, high quality sands and others.
Ms. Alaba also revealed that DGSM had plans to open up similar facilities in Ntungamo, Fort Portal and Tororo Districts in order bring services close to the mining region.
Weigh bridges to improve tracking of mineral production and revenue collection
Alaba further revealed that her office was working with the Ministry of Works and Transport to introduce weigh bridges at strategic points to track the mineral production across the country. Currently, there is no system of accurately establishing the tonnage of minerals that leave mining areas. This leaves the local governments and communal land owners in the dark regarding royalties and other local levies and fees.
She warned speculators that the newly instituted Mineral Protection Unit under the Uganda Police Force will be tasked with vetting prospective investors to ensure that they have the capacity of developing the sector. “We shall not allow any more briefcase investors. We have the Mineral Police here and they will vet all these investors,” she said. “The Police will also be deployed to control the illegal flow of minerals.”
The Karamoja Region has for long been a victim of speculation, with individuals and under-capitalised companies obtaining mining licenses solely to sell them off at a profit. This has resulted in many tuff wars in the Region for surface rights, usually putting the communities against local government and mineral developers.
According to Minerals State Minister, Peter Lokeris, one of the cardinal roles of the office will be dispute settlement.
Set on an expansive piece of land that was provided by the Moroto District Local Government, the Regional Office is a neatly finished and well- furnished spacious bungalow. It will be staffed with a Geologist, an Analyst and a Mining Inspector, among other regular staff. It will save potential mining investors and members of the public in the Karamoja Region the tedious 500 Km-long journey from Karamoja to the DGSM office in Entebbe where most of the government’s mining business is done.