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Busoga Residents Demand Compensation Before Implementation of Rare Earth Metal Mining Project :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Busoga Residents Demand Compensation Before Implementation of Rare Earth Metal Mining Project

It is said that about 532 million tonnes of rare earth elements have been identified in an area stretching a distance of 40-kilometres from the Igombe and Makuutu in Bugweri, Nakigo and Bulamagi in Iganga district and Imanyiro and Buwaaya sub-counties in Mayuge district. This area has almost 5000 households.

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Persons affected by the planned extraction of rare earth elements from the districts of Bugweri, Iganga and Mayuge, have asked officials to expedite the process of compensation, before embarking on the task.

It is said that about 532 million tonnes of rare earth elements have been identified in an area stretching a distance of 40-kilometres from the Igombe and Makuutu in Bugweri, Nakigo and Bulamagi in Iganga district and Imanyiro and Buwaaya sub-counties in Mayuge district. This area has almost 5000 households.

An initial exploration carried out in 2013 estimated that the rare earth mineral deposits in the area were worth over USD 370 billion Shillings. The rare earth elements are used in the construction and manufacturing of automobile parts, and as components in the manufacture of several technology devices like digital cameras, computer hard disks and monitors, smartphones and flat-screen televisions, and lighting applications, such as studio lighting and cinema projection among others.

But residents from the said areas told journalists on Thursday that officials from Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited, a company that was licensed to conduct exploration in the Busoga sub-region, where most of Uganda's deposits lie, have been periodically surveying their land and tasking them to sign agreements with no clear steps for compensation.

Jamada Gwaikubi, a resident of Gilamo village, in Makuutu sub-county, in Bugweri district, says that the surveying started without any project briefs to the affected persons raising suspicion about the operations. He adds that their compensation should be based on the current market rates in order to enable residents to find suitable alternatives.

//Cue in; “abantu bano…

Cue out…wena bweli.”//

But Idi Mbatya, a resident of Naitando village in Igombe sub-county says that Rwenzori rare metals officials should devise means of resettling them in already constructed housing units to prevent misuse of funds.

//Cue in; “ebintu…

Cue out…batuleke.”//

Mayuge District chairperson Frank Tibagendeka says that the local leadership is liaising with officials to ensure that the affected persons are evaluated and transparently compensated before actual extraction starts.

Meanwhile, the Iganga Resident District Commissioner Sadala Wandera says that some of the beneficiaries had shunned their farms on the assumption that the compensation processes would be effected before the close of the current financial year.

Wandera adds that they have embarked on efforts to improve the flow of information between the residents, government agencies and contractors, as a way of addressing the panic.   

In recent interviews, the chairperson of the Rwenzori Rare Metals Company, Richard Kaijuka said that the affected persons will be temporarily relocated and resettled in decent houses that the company will construct after the excavation of minerals.

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