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Africa Inaugural Global ASM Conference on Development Minerals confirms these minerals as the engine of Africa’s industrialization and modernization

Meeting of ASMs in Zambia discussing the viability of Development minerals.

On September 11‐13 Zambia hosted the inaugural International Conference on Artisanal and Small‐scale Mining & Quarrying (ASM18) on development minerals.

Over 450 delegates in attendance partook of a global dialogue about development opportunities and challenges of artisanal and small scale miners and to share visions of the future for the sub sector.

It was a landmark conference recognizing the potential of development minerals as the engine of Africa’s industrialization and modernization. Development minerals include industrial minerals, construction materials, dimension stones and semi-precious stones, agro minerals like phosphates and vermiculite, among others.

The conference, an initiative of the ACP‐EU Development Minerals Programme, aimed to improve the management of development minerals while building knowledge and awareness about them. Uganda is one of six focus countries for the ACP‐EU Development Minerals Programme whose activities include training; small grants and partnership building to strengthen development minerals value chain.

Uganda’s new Mineral and Mining Policy 2018, approved by cabinet and is currently undergoing final review, recognizes the importance of development minerals in boosting the economy through industrialization. The Policy recognizes these as minerals and aims to realize their economic potential.

The country has in the past few years realized a surge of foreign investors, particularly Chinese, venturing into lucrative sand mining which has made national headlines and drawn the fury of local leaders. The activity has gone on unregulated and experts have cited environmental implications if sand mining trade continues to be unregulated.

According to a baseline assessment of development minerals in Uganda, March 2018, up to 400,000 Ugandans who are directly employed in ASM production of development minerals are 3% of the working age population. And again, whereas 84% of development minerals extraction is attributed to ASM, the significant contributions of the ASM development minerals sector to local economies and employment  go largely undocumented. 


With an infant oil and gas industry in Uganda that majorly requires highly technical skills and specialized knowledge and agricultural sector that is largely subsistence, the ASM sector provides immense opportunities for employment and growth due to its inclusiveness. Uganda’s population is tending to 40m with unflattering unemployment figures; yet, over 60% of the population in their youth. ASM provides a rich policy ground for promoting a good job agenda.

By Robert Mwesigye