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  • Registration of employers on the national oil and gas talent register

    BACKGROUND

    The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) is established under the Petroleum Exploration, Development and Production (PEDP) Act of 2013 to monitor and regulate oil and gas activities in the country.

    This includes ensuring that petroleum operations in Uganda are carried out in accordance with the relevant laws, regulations and in line with international best practice for the petroleum industry. The PAU is required, amongst other obligations, to monitor the participation of Ugandans in the sector by ensuring that National Content as a statutory requirement is adhered to.

    Employment of Ugandans is among the key National Content areas spelt out   in   the regulatory   framework.

    Specifically, Regulation 31(1-2) of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) National Content Regulations 2016, requires the Authority to put in place a National Human Capacity Register to aid the monitoring of human capacity.

    The PAU in consultation with key stakeholders, therefore designed an e-government monitoring system called the National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) where all talent in the oil and gas sector is encouraged to register. This system was launched on 1st February, 2019 and is fully functional. Over 1,000 talent and 97 companies have registered on the system as of 28th May, 2019.The NOGTR is classified into the supply and demand side users. The supply side users include individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for the workforce demands of the oil and gas sector and are likely to be recruited by the demand side users.

    The demand side users consist of the International Oil Companies, contractors, subcontractors, International oil servicing companies, skills development providers and manpower recruiting agencies. The demand side also includes all Government entities required to navigate the system to identify and possibly recruit/ contract qualified engineers, technicians and other skilled and basic skilled workers across oil and gas projects. All companies that have registered on the National Supplier Database (NSD) are automatically entitled to credentials for the NOGTR system.

    The PAU hereby invites all companies and Government entities to post all their jobs on the NOGTR system and also consider recruiting from the portal to aid in achieving the Authority’s objective of employing Ugandans in the oil and gas related activities.

    The system enables all the potential employers to access information, search for suitable candidates and extend requests to qualified candidates to apply for the job openings.

    The Authority also requests companies that are registered on the NSD but have never got their login credentials of the NOGTR to communicate to the Authority for further assistance.

    Registration to the NOGTR is free and the Authority guarantees automatic inclusion of a company that is registered on the NSD.

    PETROLEUM AUTHORITY OF UGANDA NEW VISION TUESDAY 18, 2019 PG 19

  • Domesticating the Africa Mining Vision: Where Civil Society Stands

    The Africa Mining Vision (AMV) is a policy framework established by the African Union in 2009 to promote equitable, broad-based development through prudent exploitation and utilization of the continent’s natural wealth.

    The ambitious goal of the AMV is “to foster transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of Africa’s mineral resources to underpin broad based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.”

    The AMV is labeled ambitious as it calls for the creation of ‘a regime of responsibility for natural resource extraction in African countries.” This means it addresses key areas of interest that have long cast a spotlight on the exploitative nature of conducting business between multi-national companies and governments where the former are associated with hemorrhaging of the continent’s resources through tax evasion coupled with illicit financial flows from the mineral sector and the later mortgaging their countries’ resources in unfair selfish contracts shrouded in non-disclosure agreements.

    This cocktail of issues often leaves the countries’ citizens wallowing in poverty as the mineral resource wealth does not translate into opportunities and social economic development.

    The AMV is described as a game changer in the continent’s mineral sector, according to Oxfarm, in their 2017 briefing paper, From Aspiration to Reality: Unpacking the AMV, as it “comprehensively addresses the challenges associated with harnessing Africa’s mineral resources for sustainable development, while striving to reflect global norms for the equitable governance of the natural resources sectors.”

    Ideally the AMV addresses six major areas of intervention namely; improving the quality of geological data which leads to fairer deals and more equitable returns on mineral sector investments; contract negotiation capacity; resource governance; management of mineral wealth; addressing infrastructure constraints; and elevating artisanal and small scale mining by acknowledging its developmental role thereby harnessing this potential through formalization and integration into local and regional economic development.

    AMV Progress

    AU member states are required to adopt the AMV fully, align national mineral sector policies with the provisions of the framework and implement it through derivative policy instruments including the Country Mining Vision, African Mineral Governance Framework and Compact with the Private Sector – while maintaining an integrated, strategic vision for national development.

    Experts however say the slow pace of implementation of the AMV since its inception risks failing its major aspirations. The Brief cites that there is low awareness of the potential opportunities for the AMV to address grievances in communities experiencing the negative environmental and social effects of mineral extraction.

    Notably, civil society, which has been at the forefront of struggles to put Africa’s mineral sector at the heart of strategies for inclusive, equitable development is making baby steps towards mobilising to engage with the national implementation of the AMV in terms of grassroots mobilization and policy advocacy in Uganda.

    In promoting strategies for inclusive, equitable development civil society has been urged to popularize the AMV’s goals of: recognizing the contribution of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) to local economic development, and promoting women’s rights and gender justice; advocating for a progressive fiscal regime to curb the hemorrhaging of the continent’s resources through tax evasion and avoidance plus illicit financial flows from the mineral sector thereby promoting transparency in the management of mineral resource revenues and the accountability of states and corporate actors in their relations with mining-affected communities and citizens; upholding the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for mining-affected communities; and addressing the social and environmental impacts of mining.

    As with a number of non-governmental organisations across, ActionAid International Uganda runs a specific project on Extractives Governance and works with several stakeholders in the sub sector, particularly artisanal and small-scale miners (and government) to uphold and promote the AMV.

    Chris Musiime who works with African Centre for Mineral Policy says that there is a lack of a sense of ownership of the AMV concept by Ugandan NGOs and non-alignment with oil and gas which they consider a hot topic at the moment.

    “Although the AMV can be perceived as universal in terms of resource management, it remains hugely biased towards mining. At the time it came about, mining was not a big deal here and almost all NGOs were concentrating on oil and gas. Thus it was not an easy fit into the NGO work at the time. If you recall, many NGOs including ActionAid were mad about EITI but never mentioned AMV yet EITI principles are generally represented in the AMV,” he said.

    He contends that Civil society needs to familiarise themselves with the AMV first of all, how it came about, why Uganda signed up, and the particular role set aside in the AMV for civil society then pick out what applies to Uganda and set on developing a country specific document for Uganda.

    “With the new Minerals Policy, Petroleum Laws and on-going review of the Mining and Minerals Act as well as Uganda accepting to join EITI, CSOs have to remain updated with all these processes if they are to remain relevant. Secondly, they should follow up with the Government Department responsible for the domestication of AMV, am not sure if it’s MOFA or MEMD or both. Gain networks there and understand the challenges they have and see how to help them. AMV domestication cannot be done by NGOs alone. It has to be a partnership.”

    Didas Muhumuza, the Manager Extractives Governance Project at ActionAid International Uganda says the project has already embarked on some work around the AMV. He views that the AMV is a top-bottom high level initiative whose formulation and development did not include comprehensive stakeholder consultations and engagement. “It thus requires practical domestication through local involvement and participation by stakeholders in the derivation of the framework. The only opportunity available now is to ensure that the derivation of the Country Mining Vision for Uganda is done through a bottom-up process to enable realistic consideration of the local stakeholders concerns,” Muhumuza emphasized.

    There are takeaway points for the civil society to do more about actualizing the AMV as outlined in the brief by Oxfam.

    ‘Civil society should proactively engage in policy advocacy, research and analysis of the AMV, focus on civic space and social participation, women’s rights and gender justice and environmental plus social sustainability, in order to elicit policy reforms by African governments and the Pan-African policy institutions to address the shortcomings in the framework,” it says.

    It also urges stakeholders (especially Civil Society actors to undertake popular campaigns to raise awareness of the AMV and its benefits to African citizens and mining-affected communities, to ensure that the interests of non-state actors are addressed in the Country Mining Visions.

    By Robert Mwesigye

    Edited by Flavia Nalubega

    Edited by Didas Muhumuza

  • The Big Story Behind the Eviction of Mubende Gold Miners

    In the aftermath of the ruthless eviction of Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASMs) from the gold mines in Mubende District on August 3, 2017, President Museveni said he had not given the directive but rather had only told the soldiers and other security agencies to be on standby. Victims of that unforgettable day recount how security personnel had told them that the deployment was to support the process of registering the miners. “However, when I awoke that morning I looked around the mines and it looked like a scene from a war movie. Tanks had been stationed on hill tops facing us. That day I thought there was war,” recounted Emmanuel Kibirige, an artisanal gold miner who has been involved in the trade for the last about 12 years. That and many more stories of pandemonium have severally been told by thousands of victims who were given a two-hour ultimatum by the operations Commander of the day to vacate the mines. In the ensuing chaos, property and cash worth billions of shillings were lost in a very short time. Mubende vis a vis Other gold mining areas of Uganda Artisanal gold mining in Uganda takes place majorly in areas of Mubende, Busia, Namayingo, Buhweju, Karamoja and Bugiri. Whereas the 2006 geophysical aerial survey was not carried out in Karamoja owing to insecurity, gold mining is mainly attributed to speculators. As such gold rushes are common in the sub-region as miners shift from place to place and, according to the Acting District Natural Resources Officer of Nakapiripirit, some mining companies that operate are not known whether they possess licenses or not. Elsewhere, artisanal miners and big players such as mining companies have secured licenses to operate hence a semblance of order albeit a few cases of displacement and poor compensation of locals. In Busia for example, where the gold mining trade, that dates back to the 1930s, has run in families across generations, there are about 456 location licenses held by artisanal miners who are mostly natives. Vincent Kedi, the Principal Mining Engineer at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) noted that ASMs in Busia are more organized which helps to facilitate the process faster. “Whereas we have sensitized miners across the country about existing mining procedures, people in Busia are the only ones that have taken heed. The moment they discover an area with gold they immediately embark on processing a location license,” he said. In comparison however, Mubende is challenging. Over 90% of the people that operated in the mines were not natives which explained the population of more than 50,000 people. These included foreigners from neighbouring countries mainly DR Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi. Interestingly, artisanal gold mining in Mubende dates as far back as the 1980s, according the Kitumbi Sub-county Community Development Officer, Edward Ssenkusu, also a born of the area. “Around 1989, I always heard my father one Ssemanda Edward say that he was going to the mines at Kamalange and on several occasions, while visiting my aunt Nankusu, I passed Kamalange wetland and saw men carrying sacks of sand which contained the gold deposits,” Senkusu says. However, Gertrude Njuba, a bush war heroine, claims she first acquired this gold mining area of Mubende in 1986, “without the slightest hint of what lay underneath,” according to reference of an interview by the Daily Monitor. Her company first acquired a location license for the area measuring about 207 square kilometers in 1987, and subsequently a mining lease for the area in 1994. Battle of licenses During a handover ceremony of safety gears to members of Singo Artisanal & Small Scale Miners Association (SASSMA) miners by ActionAid Uganda in 2016, the spokesperson then John Bosco Bukya said they had applied for location licenses in 2013 but were yet to get a response. However, records at the DGSM indicate that the area for which the miners had applied, having already been working there without a license, was licensed to AUC Mining (U) Limited on 20th February 2013, having applied on 22nd October, 2012. The area measures 144.7824 square kilometers. The miners however argued that the original company, Gemstone International, originally had an exploration license for the area, whose duration was three years, of which upon expiration the company was expected to relinquish 50% of the area. Effectively, the company had not done any exploration because the miners occupied the area. In a dossier by AUC Mining U) Limited presented to the President making their case as the rightful licensed party for the disputed area, they indicated that the miners had interfered with their work where they had marked sample sites from which they extracted data. “The miners actually started invading the area after discovering the company had discovered samples of gold. The local people that were employed during these geophysical studies spread the word and people started flocking the area,” Kedi said. Anthony Kinene, the Natural Resources Officer of Mubende and borne of the area, says the first official report of artisanal gold miners in Mubende was in 2012 when the numbers became astronomical. According to the dossier, the company had spent close to 57 billion shillings on geological activities and paid at least 100 million shillings in taxes. Politics, security concerns In the aftermath of the evictions, miners said the President had betrayed them and he occasionally made verbal pledges that Mubende miners were safe and would continue to work without interference. John Bosco Bukya said that during the President’s state of the nation address of 2016, he had given them assurance that they were safe and would continue working. Following the evictions, the desperate miners said the president had all along been using them as political capital. Word of impending evictions came in early 2017 when there was a reported directive from the President for the miners to vacate the mines. On two occasions, the area Members of Parliament including Hon. Betty Namugwanya and Hon. Patrick Nsamba coordinated meetings to have the president visit the area and speak to miners but to no avail. Legally however; the miners save for those belonging to Kayonza-Kitumbi Miners Association who were already licensed, were not supposed to be occupying the mines. The then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr. Stephen Isabalijja claimed during a stormy session before the committee on natural resources in parliament that the miners posed a security threat and government had to act fast. Claims of wrong elements posing as miners had been rife. Indeed among the over 70 people arrested during the evictions that were seen by a legal team assembled by ActionAid Uganda, nearly all were found to be foreign nationals from neighbouring countries. Making a come back The evictions sparked outrage countrywide but unsurprisingly the President would give the miners an ear. The first attempt to meet him during an address on radio in Mubende flopped when he promised them a meeting at a more appropriate time. Indeed on September 26th 2017, the meeting happened at State House, Nakasero where security officials led by then Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura; energy ministry officials and miners’ representatives convened at what turned out to be a heated affair between the miners and representatives of AUC Mining Company. The company representatives were unrelenting and would not back down even when the President asked Moses Masagazi, a partner in AUC Mining company, to relinquish part of the area to the miners. It is reported that during the meeting, the company representatives claimed that they had to be compensated with Shs 2 billion for a 10 square kilometer area in Madudu Sub-county that had been proposed for relocation of the miners. As the technocrat on ground, Anthony Kinene disputed the claim, adducing proof that the proposed area was never part of that license. Following protracted negotiations, the President directed Hon. Irene Muloni, the Energy Minister that AUC Mining relinquishes 30% of their area to the miners. There was however a hitch, when it turned out that the letter was addressed to an unknown group of miners posing as the Federation of Artisanal Miners of Uganda. On investigation it was discovered the federation was in fact headed by the late Stella Njuba, daughter to Gertrude Njuba. Fresh Fight The miners, under their umbrella association, Mubende United Miners Association (MUMA) which brings together 21 associations had to put up a fresh fight, which however culminated into fresh negotiations and later concessions to share just 10% of the 30% because by now they were running low in energy and desperate to return to work. Gradually the miners started to make a breakthrough, with their major milestone being a meeting with the Operation Wealth Creation boss, and the president’s young brother Gen. Salim Saleh at Serene Hotel in Mutundwe. According to Bukya John Bosco, the meeting was very cordial and Gen. Saleh pledged that the miners would soon resume work. “We are now in advanced stages of receiving location licenses as members of MUMA; everything is in order now after we came to an understanding with the Federation,” the MUMA Chairperson Bukya John Bosco said. The negotiations through different power holders paid off as the miners were eventually granted permission to return to Kasanda district mining gold areas, specically in Katugo, Kitoma, and Nfuka all located in Kitumbi sub-county. They have secured 15 location licenses and expect about 15 more, which puts them in a safe position to resume mining legally. By Robert Mwesigye Edited by Flavia Nalubega Edited By Didas Muhumuza

  • Ministry Moves to Register All Miners

     

    The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will biometrically register Uganda’s artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM). This will be in line with a new mineral policy, it says, through its Financial Year 2018/19 policy statement.

    This was revealed and  launched by the Ministry in mid July 2018. The State minister for Minerals, Mr Peter Lokeris,  said the registration is to establish who is involved in artisanal and small-scale mining.

    “You know all minerals belong to the government. But there are some people who know how to spot minerals and start mining illegally,” Mr Lokeris said.

    He added: “This [biometric registration] is meant to streamline [artisanal and small-scale mining] so that we know who is where.” Mr Lokeris said if the government is not in the know who is involved in artisanal and small-scale mining, some of the ASMs could cross borders; mine or sell the illegally mined minerals and conflict.

    Kick off He said the registration is expected to start later this third quarter- in September, although he could not there and then say how much has been budgeted for the exercise. But according to a House Budget Committee May 2018 report, biometric registration of the ASMs will cost $350,000 (about Shs1.3b). Mr Lokeris said the ministry is targeting 1,200 ASMs for a start but would register more and more with time.

    Mr George Onega, a small-scale miner in Busia District, Eastern Uganda, said although he had not been aware of  government’s plans to biometrically register ASMs, he welcomes it. “I support it, 100 per cent. It is very good because if a miner is operating without being known to the government, it will be hard for the government to get royalties,” Mr Onega said.

    Nelson Wesonga, Daily Monitor

    Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

    http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Ministry-moves-register-all-miners/688334-4665060-13mk0y5/index.html

     

     

  • Uganda works to phase out mercury usage

    The maiden Conference of Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury took place in Geneva on September 24-29. The Convention is an international legal instrument or Treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. The Convention currently has been signed by 128 countries and ratified by 83 so far.

    The Minamata Convention requires the phase out of many products containing mercury, implements restrictions on trade and supply of mercury and establishes a framework to reduce or eliminate emissions and releases of mercury from industrial processes and mining.

    Mercury is widely used by artisanal and small scale gold miners, Uganda inclusive. According to the UN, the practice of mercury amalgamation in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is of particular concern due to the “decentralised distribution of elemental mercury utilized and its widespread handling, thermal conversion and disposal within social settings such as shops, villages, and food production areas.”

    The sad bit in Uganda is that because of the state of ASGM, unregulated and illegal, miners have no idea of the dangers of mercury. At high levels, mercury can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system of people of all ages. According to studies, high levels of methyl mercury in the bloodstream of unborn babies and young children may harm the developing nervous system, making the child less able to think and learn and potentially reducing their IQ.

    During a working visit in Namayingo a miner brazenly said he had handled mercury for over ten years but “nothing was wrong with him and he had never developed any problems.”

    Asked how they accessed mercury, a miner in Nsango B village, Budde Sub County in Bugiri district once told a team from Oil in Uganda that they ‘had suppliers’ but was not willing to elucidate. Mercury however is largely smuggled from Tanzania and easily accessible by the miners at just between Sh800 and Sh1000 a gram meaning it is easily accessible.

    Government intervention

    Mr Erienyu Johnson, the Busia District natural resources officer, displaying a bottle of dirty brown-coloured water, noted how he had fetched a sample from R. Okame in Busitema where miners used mercy nearby. He said locals had complained that the water had been contaminated by the miners.

    He said a nongovernmental organisation, Environmental Women in Action for Development (EWAD), ventured into the district to ‘build artisanal miners’ capacity and promote safe mining without using mercury..

    Mr Erienyu said though the district leadership is in the process of working out something to manage the use of mercury by artisanal gold miners there are currently no measures in place.

    “We currently have a draft ordinance that is to be presented at the next council seating,” he told Oil in Uganda.

    National Task Force

    At the national level, Uganda, through National Environmental Management Authority, has a task force – Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICHEM) – which is the national focal point for the management of use of mercury.

    Mr Paul Twebaze, an environmentalist working with Pro-Biodiversity Conservation Uganda (PROBICOU), says the civil society organisation is the national focal point NGO for SAICHEM in Uganda.

    Twebaze says PROBICOU is also a member of the National Steering Committee of the Stockholm Convention against Persistent Organic Pollutants (global treaty ratified by the international community lead by UNEP – calls for the elimination and/or phasing out of 12 POPs) in Uganda, activities all coordinated by NEMA.

    “We have been a lead NGO doing work on mercury and of course working towards ratification of the Minamata Convention working with the Government of Uganda to speed up the processes of the ratification of the Minamata Convention.

    “We got involved in the negotiation processes and are currently working with government on enabling activities,” Twebaze says.

    “We are working with the health sector to discourage the use of dental amalgam which contains mercury. Additionally we are also trying to promote the use of mercury-free electronic appliances,” Twebaze says of their manadate.

    He says they are also working with all stakeholders in the mining industry to minimize and eventually phase out the use of mercury especially by the artisanal and small scale miners.

    Paul says Uganda is being supported by the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention to speed up the process of ratification.

    “After Uganda has fully understood and appreciated the situation I am confident it will ratify the Convention,” he says.

  • MPs ask government to establish an independent body tasked with regulating the Mining sector

    MPs ask government to establish an independent body tasked with regulating the Mining sector

    Members of Parliament want government to establish an independent body – Minerals Authority to regulate the mining sector. The MPs argue that it will be able to check the immense discretionary powers the Mining Act, 2003 vest in the Commissioner [now director] at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM).

    Hon. Samson Lokeris, Dodoth East MP, says just as government established an independent Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) to regulate the petroleum sector, the same should be done for the mining sector.

    “We should establish something like the mineral authority it can regulate and provide oversight supervision,” Mr Lokeris said and further explained,

    “I think there is need to reduce the powers of the Commissioner. If we can regulate that, it will be very important. We need the involvement of the players including communities and local governments,” he said.

    Members of Parliament on the PFOG committee at a mining legislation review meeting in Kampala

    Hon Robert Ntende, Bunya South MP, in Mayuge district also backed Mr Lokeris on the establishment of a Minerals Authority.  “We need to make sure that the powers vested in the commissioner are trimmed and shared in other institutions – the Minerals Authority,” Ntende said.

    The Commissioner is currently allowed to make a number of critical decisions, particularly related to the granting, renewing and revoking of rights without consulting anybody or committee. This means that the Commissioner has direct and unfettered discretionary control over the sector. This discretion must be checked by introducing an independent oversight body such as a “Minerals Authority” tasked with reviewing bids, approving applications and recommending

    The MPs made the recommendations during a Mining Legislation Review meeting by ActionAid Uganda,  between MPs on the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament and Civil Society Organizations in Kampala on Thursday 18, May, 2017. The meeting aimed at sensitizing MPs to be able to shape the forthcoming amendment of the Mining Act, 2003 and Mining Policy 2001.

    Mr Bashir Twesigye, the executive director, Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED) said many jurisdictions are moving away from concentrating powers in one person or body. He gave the example of Zambia, where government established Mining Licensing Committee to check on the abuse of powers and provide additional scrutiny and Ghana, where a Minerals Commission, was established to that handles licensing and other oversight functions of the mining sector.

    The CSOs recommend that the Minerals Authority should be charged with review and approval of applications for license and forward them to the Minister for licensing based on a prescribed procedure for the evaluation of bid information.

    MINERAL FUND

    The MPs also backed a proposal from civil society organizations for the establishment of the Minerals Fund and a Minerals Investment Reserve in Bank of Uganda to hold all revenues generated from the mining sector.  “There is a lot of money from the minerals but we don’t know where it goes. Who monitors whether royalties have been paid or not,” Lokeris wondered.

    Mr Isaac Kabongo, Executive Director, Ecological Christian Organization implored government to also consider regulating low value minerals in the forthcoming amendments.

    “Uganda’s policies and laws tend to focus mainly on high value minerals and silent on neglected minerals [law value minerals]. Minerals like sand, murrum, clay are always neglected,” he said. However, Uganda’s Constitution excludes sand, clay, stones normally used for building from minerals save if exploited for commercial purposes.

    “Without looking for revenues from all sectors, it will always be a challenge to meet our budget. We need to be smart and make sure that every fee is collected. Do the companies pay the taxes they are supposed to pay?”  Mr Kabongo said.

    Kabongo says in the forthcoming amendments to the Mining Act 2003, there should be a provision for mining companies to first secure a social license to operate from the communities.

    “Sometimes, these companies come with their licenses from Entebbe, without any courtesy to introduce themselves to district, sub county or community leaders, go with their equipments and begin mining which is causing a lot of conflict with the local people,” he said. He said in some areas like Karamoja, host communities are being compelled to live on marginal lands and they are left with no option by to become landless.

    CSOs also want government to regulate and formalize artisanal and small scale miners and secure their livelihoods and also the establishment of a quasi-judicial body – tribunal to handle disputes in the mining sector. “We think dispute should be handled by an independent tribunal, which should be established by the amended Act,” Mr Bashir Twesigye said

    Edward Ssekika

    Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

    Miners searching for gold from the dust collected from a gold pit in Kasanda-Mubende

  • CSOs rally MPs support for a pro-people law as mining legislation takes shape

    The Civil Society Organisations will be pushing for inclusivness as they present their agenda to Members of Parliament in the ongoing legislation review process of the Mining Act 2003 and Mining Policy 2001.

    Stakeholders of the Civil Society Organisation will be meeting Members of Parliament drawn from the Natural Resources Committee and Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) in a working dialogue tomorrow on Thursday 18, May 2017 praying to have their views taken into consideration in the ongoing legislative review process of the Mining Act 2003 and Mining Policy 2001.

    Ms. Flavia Nalubega, the project officer of the Extractives Governance Project at Actionaid Uganda, says it will be an opportunity for civil society to “voice their expectations on the law under review and also have an input in the matter.

    “Now is the time to rally support before the matter is presented on the floor of parliament,” Ms. Nalubega said.

    The workshop follows a consultative meeting with Members of Parliament on the Natural Resources Committee under the leadership of Hon. Mukitale Steven that was held in March this year regarding the review of the Mining Act.

    According to the Mining and Mineral Policy Draft 2016, government recognizes the input of artisanal miners to the socio-economic development of the country bearing in mind that artisanal mining is a source of livelihood for thousands of Ugandans.

    In this regard government plans to organize and formalize artisanal miners and gazette them to operate in areas that are not under commercial exploration.

    Ms Winfred Ngabirwe, Global Rights Alert Executive Director, says they hope to build consensus with the legislators to ensure a well regulated sector and a better Uganda.

    “We have the National Development Plan and Vision 2040 and we need MPs to know where we are coming from. Without good legislation we are leaving out a very big section of Ugandans where we’ll continue to see under development and exploitation, “ She said and added,

    “The challenge is not about the leadership, the State or who is in power; there’s no one against the other but rather we strive for inclusive development in the sector,” Ms Ngabiirwe said.

    Stakeholders can join the interaction on Twitter under the hastag #mininglegislation that will be relayed by @OilInUg.

    Report by Robert Mwesigye

    Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org

  • Address challenges faced by women in mining – MPs, activists ask government

    Ms Nivatiti Nandujja, Human Rights Coordinator (AAU) speaking at National Dialogue. Photo by Francis Emorut.

    Members of Parliament and human rights activists have asked government to enforce the laws in the mining sector to protect the right of women in the sector. The MPs and other stakeholders said women in the minerals sector face a lot of challenges, which need to be addressed.

    The call was made during the National Dialogue on Land and Extractives, under the theme, “Harnessing citizen participation for good governance and sustainable livelihoods,” at Hotel Africana on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. The conference was attended by government officials, artisanal miners, district leaders, cultural leaders and civil society representatives among others.

    Nivatiti Nandujja, Human Rights Coordinator at Action Aid Uganda (AAU), said the extractives sector is male dominated and women participation is wanting. She explained that the few women employed in mines are working under inhuman and poor working conditions with meager pay.

    “Women working in mines do not enjoy the entitlement provided for by the law. They don’t get maternity leave or sick leave, but instead, when they get pregnant, they are simply laid off,” Nandujja said. She said despite the good policies and laws on gender based violence, the position of women has not improved and advocated for other interventions in addition to enforcement of policies and laws in order to ensure gender equity in extractives sector.

    Catherine Nyakecho, a Geologist working with Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development disagreed with MsNandujja that the minerals sector is male dominated. She quoted a research by African Center for Energy and Mineral Policy (ACEMP) that revealed that of the sites visited, women are more into stone quarrying, salt mining, marble, limestone, and sand mining – the low value minerals, while the men are where the money is.

    Catherine Nyakecho,  Geologist, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development speaking at National Dialogue. Photo by Francis Emorut.

    However, she said women in mines have been exposed to more poor working conditions than men. For instance in stone quarrying, she said women and children are engaged in crashing stones with their bare hands, which exposes them to accidents and a lot of dust, which affect their lives.

    Despite spending a whole day crashing stones, women get meager pay. “Stone quarries lack toilets and therefore women during menstruation periods have to travel back home for health break – wasting a lot of their valuable time and when they fall sick, they get no payment,” she said.

    Nyakacho explained that in salt mining, men wear condoms to prevent salty water from entering their bodies through their private parts, but in contrast, though women need protective gears too, they are normally not provided for, and thus enter salty water without protective gears, which has negative consequences on their health.

    In gold mining, women are exposed to dangerous chemicals like mercury. Whereas the men get the ore or gold sand out of the ground, Nyakecho said women are exposed to mercury during panning for gold which affect their lives. Weighing in on mercury, one of the participants from Amudat district said there is a worrying trend that feet/legs of women working in goldmines are swelling, due to what she suspects could be prolonged exposure to mercury.

    Deborah Ariong, the Natural Resources Officer, Amudat district, said she had witnessed breast-feeding mothers panning gold with mercury and then breast-feed babies thereafter. She called for strict enforcement of health and safety measures in mines like ensuring all workers wear protective gears.

    Betty Atiang, programme Manager at Saferworld Uganda, told the extractives sector in Uganda is expanding, and as it expands, it is worsening existing tension and exposing new conflicts. The sector, she explained, is faced with land conflicts in form of land grabbing, contention over surface rights, conflicts that relate to allocation of royalties, environmental degradation and gender based violence among others. She observed that conflict is an impediment to good governance and implored participants to make a contribution towards promoting conflict free extractives sector, transparency, accountability, citizen’s participation in decision making.

    Plenary discussion at National Dialogue. Photo by Francis Emorut.

    Drawing from his experience as an artisanal miner in Mubende district, Emmanuel Kibirig said women of today can do mining, though by their nature they can’t go inside the pit. Therefore, in the pit, miners don’t employ women. He explained that in gold mining, the value chain is that men dig and go inside the pit in order to extract gold ores/sand on the ground for women to their work in the value chain.

    Mukitale Mukitale, the MP Buliisa, said women artisanal miners need to form strong cooperatives or associations, through which they can demand for more protection and seek help. Weighing on the discussion, Adong Lilly, Woman MP Nwoya district, told in order to protect women rights, there is need to amend the laws and policies governing the minerals sector to cap a percentage of jobs and contracts to be given exclusively to women. This will ensure that women in the sector are empowered.

    By Edward Ssekika

    Oil.uganda@actionaid.org

  • National Dialogue to impact on governance of the Extractives Sector

    CSOs have organised a dialogue slated for Wednesday the 26th April 2017

    Archive photo from former event. 

    Four of Uganda’s Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are hosting an annual multi-stakeholder national dialogue under the theme; Land and Extractives – harnessing citizen participation for good governance and sustainable livelihoods.

    The meeting that is expected to attract more than 100 participants is aimed at ensuring that stakeholders at the grassroots interact with the leaders at both local and central government to ensure transparency and good governance of the oil, gas and mineral sector.

    The convention, organized by Action Aid Uganda (AAU), Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED), Saferworld Uganda and Transparency International Uganda (TIU), will be held at Hotel Africana on Wednesday the 26th of April, and among the invitees are delegates from Parliament, the private sector, industry players, government agencies, local government leaders, community leaders, community representatives and relevant CSOs.

    The meeting arose out of findings by civil society regarding the increasing unplanned and untimely displacements and land disputes in the oil rich and mining areas, which inhumane activities affect people, particularly the less privileged, including women and children.

    Instead of remedying this pattern, the government has instead recently decided to worsen the problem by proposing an amendment to Article 26 of the Constitution with the effect of allowing government to acquire land before effecting compensation to the project-affected person.

    Elaborating on the expected outcomes from the meeting, Mr. Ivan Mpagi, the Extractives Governance Project Manager at ActionAid Uganda, explains that the meeting is meant to create a platform for discussing the challenges in the extractive sector by engaging policy makers on what needs to be done in order to address these challenges.

    “We want to bring the oil companies together to tell Ugandans how far they are in the actual extraction of oil,” Mr. Mpagi says. “The extraction will generate employment, and it will generate revenues as well, and we as civil society want to monitor this development and hold these actors accountable.”

    He further expresses hope of more transparency concerning the government’s exploration agreements with the oil companies (Tullow, CNOCC and Total), as he finds the government to have been “very secretive” until now. “Through the dialogue we hope that Ugandans can be told about the agreements made with these companies.”

    By Preben A. Martensen-Larsen   

    Oil.uganda@actionaid.org

  • Family Sues Government for Unlawful Use of Rock

     

    Part of Agricultural Land filled with rocks. Photo from Healthy Land

    Is a rock found in your land a mineral and therefore vested in the State?

    A family in Oyam District has sued the Government of Uganda and Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd for unlawfully crushing ‘its’ rock into aggregate and using it to construct Karuma hydro-electric power  dam without compensation, Oil in Uganda exclusively reveals.

    In the suit Etot Paul and others Vs Attorney General and Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd, filed in 2015 in the Land Division of the High Court, the family of Mzee Etot wants court to compel Government and Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd – a Chinese company constructing the 600 megawatts Karuma dam, to pay for aggregate derived from the family rock.

    According to the family, it all started in 2012, when the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development decided to compulsorily acquire land near and around Karuma to pave way for the construction of the dam.

    “Part of Mzee Etot’s land was among parcels that government acquired for construction of the dam. However, government only assessed the value of the land and development on it without taking into consideration the value of the rock on the land,” family spokesperson told Oil in Uganda.

    The family claims that since it owns the land, it also owns the rock on the land, and therefore deserves compensation for the value of the rock.

    “Consequently, government unlawfully took over the family’s parcels of land adjacent to river Nile, and handed it to Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd for the construction of the dam,” the plaint reads, further noting that part of the land which also contains a rock is also their property.

    Through their lawyer, George Omunyokol, the family claims Sino Hydro Corporation brought a rock crusher and crushed the rock into aggregate that it is using to construct Karuma hydro-electric power dam  free of charge.

    Omunyokol argues that stones and rocks are not minerals and therefore government should compensate the family for unlawful use of its rock.

    “The stone/rock in our clients land is not a mineral because the Constitution excludes it from minerals,” he states in the plaint.

    Omunyokol’s argument is premised on Article 244(1) of the Constitution of Uganda that vests the entire property in and control of all minerals and petroleum in government on behalf of the Citizens.

    Article 244 (5) of the Constitution excludes clay, murram, sand or any stone commonly used for building or similar purposes. “So, clearly, the Constitution is clear, it excludes stones from minerals,” Omunyokol told Oil in Uganda.

    Consequently, the family hired professional geologists to quantify the value of the rock and according to the technical evaluation report seen by Oil in Uganda, puts the value of the rock at $ 6.5million  (approximately Shs 22 billion).

    According to the geologists, the rock has capacity to produce about 650,000 tons of aggregates. Therefore, at a market value of $10 (about Shs 33,000/=) per ton, the rock is worth $ 6.5 million (about Shs 22bn). Therefore, in the suit, the family wants court to order government to pay $ 6.5 million in compensation.

    In addition, the Chief Government Valuer conducted valuation of the entire family property which includes; the value of crops, buildings and land to worth 813million Uganda shillings. These monies have not been paid to date.

    Oil in Uganda has established that government withheld payment of the compensation, due to the standoff over the rock.

    The family seeks a declaration that the actions of Sino Hydro  Corporation quarrying the family’s rock, crushing it into aggregates and using the aggregates for the construction without compensation is unlawful and unconstitutional and seek compensation for the value of the crushed rock at the market rate.

    However, the Attorney General, in a Written Statement of Defense to the suit, insists that a rock is a mineral and therefore vested in government  and the family is not entitled to any compensation so court should dismiss the suit with costs.

    “In respect of the claim for compensation for the rocks found on the suits, the plaintiffs [family] are not entitled to compensation in view of the provisions of the Constitution read together with various provisions of the Mining Act 2003,” the AG argues in the defense.

    According to Andrew Karamagi, the legal argument by George Omunyokol is sound since rock is part of land and is not a mineral, hence its value should be factored into the computation for the final value of the said piece of land.

    “There is a Latin maxim about land which argues to the effect that cujus est solum ejus usque ad coelum (translated to mean- he who owns the land owns everything above and below it). In mutatis mutandis with the Constitution of Uganda which precludes minerals, it is clear that this rock is on the land and is therefore part of the impugned land,” he told Oil in Uganda.

    Last year, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), was embroiled in wrangle with businessman Pius Mugalaasi, over the value of a rock on the Entebbe- Express highway on his land. The Roads Authority was eventually forced to divert the road.

    The value of rocks found on land is becoming an issue given the demand of aggregate for various on-going projects. If for instance the court rules that a rock is not a mineral, and therefore a property of the land owner, even when exploited for commercial purposes, will set a precedent that could raise the value of rocky lands.

    Report by Edward Ssekika.