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Gov’t Tasked to Explain Idle Mineral Licenses

Dr Luisa Moreno, the managing partner and analyst with Toronto-based Tahuti Global inc, said one of the issues holding back Uganda’s mining sector was the fact that most of the licenses are held by individuals or companies that aren’t using them.
A gold mining pit. Speculators hold licenses to explore such minerals but never use them

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The government has been tasked to explain why as many as a half of minerals exploration licenses are in the hands of companies that have no capacity to use them.

Dr Luisa Moreno, the managing partner and analyst with Toronto-based Tahuti Global Inc., said one of the issues holding back Uganda’s mining sector was the fact that most of the licenses are held by individuals or companies that aren’t using them.  

She said some companies or individuals hold as many as 10 licenses but are not using them.

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There are about 800 mineral exploration licenses, according officials from the Uganda Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines.       

 This means the industry has been captured by speculators and government must come hard on them as one of the interventions to boost the sect.  

Moreno was among the experts that spoke at the 8th annual mineral wealth conference at Serena hotel on Wednesday.   

 

Moreno said if government was wondering why companies with money were not coming to Uganda, the answer lies in speculation.  

She said people hold licenses for years without using them just waiting for an opportunity to sell exorbitantly to genuine investors.  

The issue of speculators posing as genuine investors holding up licenses has been here for long and government has struggled to solve.

 Tens of licenses are held in Karamoja region but hardly these companies are able to carry out exploration in the area.  

Discussants at the conference said it was time government took a step if the sector was to take off.  

Robert Kasande, the permanent secretary of the ministry of energy and mineral development, said government was alert to the issue. He said the online portal, which started operations on 1 October 2019, will help weed out speculators.  

He said he the system will be able to automatically detect the number of licenses one is holding and for how long and what exactly has been done. If nothing, he said, they would be cancelled.

Another issue raised was land. According to Zachary Baguma, the Commissioner Geology at the Uganda Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines, the land question uncertainty was turning way big investors from the sector.

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Land issue emanates from the fact that most of the land in Uganda is not titled. Issues of double claims or compensating wrong parties usually surface. The ensuing litigation mean they make the projects extremely expensive for investors.

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