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Ministry, ActionAid to launch project to register ASMs

Artisan Miners evicted and displaced by Uganda Millitary.

As plans to properly harness the mineral resource potential by government takes shape, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will launch the Biometric Registration and Management of the ASM segment in Uganda Project (BRASM), on Friday 29th March 2019, in Kampala.
The move is the commencement of an arduous process by government efforts to formalize the artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) sub-sector, which constitutes 90% of the mining activity in Uganda and is a source of livelihood for many people.
Formalization and regulation of the ASM sub-sector is part of Government’s broader strategy of ensuring that mining as a whole becomes one of the key economic drivers of the Ugandan economy as envisaged by the country’s Vision 2040 and National Development Plan II (2015/16 – 2020/21).
Much as the development is part of Uganda’s commitment and recognition of international and regional initiatives such as Africa Mining Vision (2009), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) 1, ASM Formalization Guide in the Great Lakes Region and the IGF Guidance for Governments on managing the ASM sub-sector, it comes as a huge boost for the local miners who remain uncertain about their plight in the ever metamorphosing mining sector and mineral development overall.
ASM activities had for long been regarded illegal in Uganda though the sub-sector continued to attract many people in pursuit of survival, an aspect that has drawn attention owing to its social inclusivity and potential to improve the livelihoods of many people in impoverished nations.
This is evidenced in a policy brief by Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy that will undertake the BRASM project (on behalf of the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines), which linked ASM to the Sustainable Development Goals which form part of Uganda’s development agenda.
“On a global level, Uganda embraced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to foster social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic development through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has made strong efforts to domesticate the SDGs to achieve its targeted development outcomes. Mining is one of those sectors that can contribute to Uganda’s development targets given that ASM directly relates to many of the SDGs,” the brief states.
Whatever promise the ASM sub-sector held for transforming people’s lives however was thrown to the wind (especially in Mubende now Kassanda district), when artisanal and small scale gold miners were ruthlessly evicted from the mines in August 2017, where over 60,000 people etched a living. The shocking development was widely condemned by Civil Society among other stakeholders. The President of Uganda however argued that unlike other gold mining areas such as the eastern district of Busia which he cited, the Mubende mines posed a security threat as the people working there were not known thus being foreigners. He said the move was necessary to organize them first and know who they are and duly register them.
Organising the sub-sector henceforth became a priority of the MEMD as government was urged to fast track the process of amending the mining laws in search of a solution for the miners and avoid such drastic measures like evictions in future.
Consequently the process of registration is a precursor to the integration of ASM activities and operations into the broader mining legal and regulatory framework as well as integration of informal ASM activities into the formal fiscal and economic system. This is envisaged to reduce or eliminate the social and environmental negative impacts and externalities of ASM operations, streamline ASM operations alongside medium to large scale mining operations and concessions and capture lost economic value of the sector for the sustainable development of the Ugandan economy.
The MEMD therefore is partnering with ActionAid International Uganda to officially launch (as shared above) the biometric registration initiative to enable stakeholders appreciate and how it works and the value it will create to especially ASMs going forward.
By Robert Mwesigye
Edited by Flavia Nalubega
Edited by Didas Muhumuza
Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org