Civil society organisations describe the new Mining and Minerals Bill, 2019 as progressive.
Government started country-wide consultations on the new Mining and Minerals Bill 2019 that seeks to improve the management of the minerals sub-sector. The Mining and Minerals Bill, 2019 will repeal the Mining Act, 2003. Uganda has a huge mineral potential that once exploited and revenues well managed has potential to spur economic growth and development. However, the weak and obsolete legal and regulatory framework has been blamed for the sluggish development of the sub-sector.
Launching the stakeholders’ consultations on the bill at Imperial Royale Hotel, the Minister of State for Minerals Development, Hon. Peter Lokeris emphasised the need for stakeholders especially mining communities to provide their views on the bill.
“Please note, at this stage the bill [Mining and Minerals Bill 2019] is a working document and we look forward to your input to enrich it so that it effectively addresses the challenges in the mineral sub-sector in this country,” Lokeris said.
Onesmus Mugyenyi, the Deputy Executive Director of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) welcomed the Mining and Minerals Bill 2019 as a step in the right direction. “Under the Mining Act 2003, if you want to apply for a licence, it was first come, first serve. So, those individuals who had information about the minerals sub-sector, would take that advantage and put in applications. Now, what the new bill is proposing is competitive bidding which is a good step,” Mugyenyi explained.
He added, “What the new bill is looking at is how does the country formalize and empower the sub-sector so that the citizens can maximize benefits”
Vincent Kedi, a Mining Engineer at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), says the bill provides for punitive sanctions for none compliance. “Importantly, the bill provides for very strong fines, penalties and sanctions regime. The current law [Mining Act, 2003] has a maximum fine of about Shs 2 million. But the new bill provides for improvements regarding penalties for violations and none compliance,” Kedi explained.
He adds that the bill also seeks to regulate substances which were excluded in the definition of minerals in the Constitution. These that are often referred to as development minerals include: sand, clay, marram and stones which when exploited on a commercial basis will be categorised as mining and thus their exploitation regulated by government. According to the Bill, no person will be authorised to exploit sand, clay, marram and stone on a commercial basis without a licence.
Speaking at the same event, Simon Peter Kinobe, the President Uganda Law Society (ULS) said the new law should promote local content and preservation of the environment. “As Uganda Law Society we are insisting on the local content element, Ugandans should benefit, the government should benefit and so should the investors. Our environment should be preserved and the best practices emphasized,” Kinobe said.
Arthur Bainomugisha, the Executive Director of ACODE asked government to aim at creating a law that promotes meaningful investment in the sector. “We must create a law that attracts serious investors that will create good jobs for our people in the mining industry,” he explained.
By: Edward SsekikaEdited by Muhumuza Didas
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