Uganda’s parliament has passed the mining and mineral bill, 2021 which will lead to the establishment of the Uganda National Mining Company to manage the government’s commercial holding and participating interests in mineral agreements.
The bill that was passed on February 17, 2022, to a section of legislators, is a beacon of hope for the mining sector and the host communities for these minerals.
The Bill mandates the National Mining Company to hold up to 15 per cent free equity in all large and medium mining ventures.
‘’The Bill grants that a large scale or medium scale license may give the state an ownership at no cost up to maximum of 15 per cent in a large scale mining license or medium scale mining license,’’ said Emmanuel Otaala, the Committee chairperson.
The new law also gazettes the participation of host communities in the entire decision-making process of mining. This implies that information on licenses, environment and social impact assessments will be done both at the national and local government levels.
According to a report presented by the committee of mining and minerals, a new sub-clause was introduced in the bill to provide that local governments shall receive reports and plans of the companies operating in their jurisdiction every six months.
According to the committee’s report, this will deal away with the loopholes in the past where noninvolvement of local governments in mining operations has made it difficult for host communities to assess the royalties from within their boundaries.
The committee also recommended regulation of extraction of building substances in a separate law, rather than conjoining it in a law that regulates minerals.
“Government should move a bill to regulate building substances as sand, clay and murram,’’ Otala said.
Kampala central legislator, Muhammad Nsereko, agrees that there should be harmony between government and the communities in access to building materials by locals.
“The views of our people as regards the ownership of murram, clay, sand and other building substances at least be in the hands of our people. That needs a scientific approach for us to study. If all is left in the hands of the government, you may deny our people that useful income and skills in elementary mining,’’ said Nsereko.
Kumi Municipality MP, Hon Silas Aogon said the decision to allow locals access to construction materials like sand, clay and murram was wise.
‘’Don’t tamper with those for now because when you do, you will be increasing the cost of construction and this will in turn increase slums,’’ says Aogon.
The mining and minerals bill, 2021 will now await presidential assent.