Water and Environment

Tonnes of copper remains piled by Kilembe Mines washed away by floods

By Joel Kaguta

Tonnes of copper tailings (remains) that were piled by Kilembe Mines before it was closed in Kasese district are wasting away as they are being eroded by River Nyamwamba.

Kilembe mines, which were known for copper production, also produced cobalt-rich sulphate concentrate as one of the waste products.

However, the remains have continued being eroded whenever the river floods. Now, the leaders say that the minerals have heavy metals which have an accumulation effect in the food chain of the aquatic flora and fauna.

Mr. Alex Kwatampora Binego, an independent geologist says if the erosion of the remains is not controlled, the side effects are transferred to people who depend on these biodiversity for food.

Kwatampora explained that there are more than 13 elements including cobalt, copper sulphate, copper chloride, and copper oxide among others.

He noted that allowing the remains to continue being eroded by the river does not only put the lives of people at a great health risk but it might also deny Uganda a lot of money.

River Nyamwamba empties directly into Lake George that connects to Lake Edward through the Kazinga Channel. Lake Edward connects to River Semuliki which empties into Lake Albert.

The Kasese District Chairperson, Eliphaz Muhindi Bukombi told Rwenzori Daily that they are worried that the apiculture that is in the lake is going to be affected.

Richard Bomera, the L.C III Chairperson for Bulembia Division where the copper deposits are located says the continued loss of such substances affects the employment opportunities of Many Ugandans who would be employed when government revamps the mine

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