Artisan gold miners in Busia district are living in fear of being evicted following the construction of a gold refinery.
Valued at US$ 200M, the gold refinery will seat on 300 acres of land
covering Alupe, Akipenet, Amagoro and Amonikakine villages in Buteba
Sub-county. The refinery is being constructed by Chinese firm Wagagai Gold Mining Company Limited.
Completion of the refinery is
expected in 2025 and will produce 1,000 kilograms of gold.
The concerns were raised in the meeting held at Tiira Miracle centre
on Thursday to sensitize artisan miners to form groups and get mining licenses.
Charles Olowo, Christin Adeke, and Wilfred Ngobi among other artisan
miners in Tiira Town Council said that they are living in fear following information
that the investors have plans to displace most of them in the area.
This has left most of them struggling to acquire mining licenses. The artisans
also appealed to the government to centralize the legalization of miners by
putting geological offices at the district level.
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Geoffrey Kwamboyi, the chairman Tiira small scale minor’s
association says that they have formed a network to protect them against the investors
who may force them out of their place of work.
Geoffrey Kamese, the program manager of Uganda National
Association of Coalition for Health-UNACOH says that they are sensitizing
artisan miners to form groups and create one network.
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But Samuel Barasa, the Communications Manager Wagagai Gold Mining
Company denied the allegations by the artisan miners.
Barasa appealed to the small scale miners to get legalized so that
they co-exist with the investors.
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The refinery will be constructed in two phases with each
phase costing US$ 100millio. The first phase will be completed in 2023.