By Baluku Alex
Plans for Government to revive the copper mining industry in Kasese district after more than 35 years of inactive are in high gears.
The proposed revival of the Kilembe copper mining industry comes after government has acknowledged receipt of 21 investors who have already shown interest in taking up the mining industry.
Kilembe mines is Uganda’s largest copper mine with estimated deposits of copper in excess of 4,000,000 tones and an underdetermined amount of cobalt ore. There are approximately 2,800 acres of unexplored acreage at the site.
In July 1950, two Canadian mining companies, Frobisher Limited and Ventures Limited, formed a joint venture, named Kilembe Mines Limited (KML), whose objective was to mine copper from under the Rwenzori Mountains near Kasese.
Kilembe Mines Limited built and operated a copper smelter in Jinja and maintained offices in Kampala. Other assets include a housing estate for staff in Kasese and the 5MW Mubuku I Power Station in the Rwenzori Mountains.
In 1962, KML was acquired by Falconbridge of Africa, who sold it to the Government of Uganda in 1975. Copper extraction ceased in 1982 due to dilapidated equipment, high inflation and insecurity.
In 2013, after nearly 30 years of dormancy and after several failed attempts to privatize the mine, a consortium led by Tibet-Hima Mining Company Limited, won the competitive bid to manage, rehabilitate and operate Kilembe Mines Limited for 25 years before the contract was counseled in 2018 by the government of Uganda
Now, the state minister for investment Evelyn Anite who on Thursday-19- Augusts 2021 visited the district is hopeful that the mining would resume in the soonest time. Anite together with a section of local leaders visited the Kasese industrial area and later moved to Kilembe Mines where they spent most their time inspecting the area.
Anite says despite having investors ready, the technocrats were still holding back the project. However she divulged to the media that next week the interested investors would be asked to submit in their bids for a proper choice of an investor. She also added that there is need for more than one investor in to take over mines.
The move to revive the mines, has excited Kasese leaders with many hopping for enhancement of revenue in addition to creating Jobs for the communities around.
Speaking to this reporter, Chance Kahindo Sibyabugha, the Kasese Municipal Mayor says Kilembe mines is reach with all the types of minerals and if Government is able to revamp the mines it would have scored 100%.