Uganda will host its first biggest international mining conference in the first week of October as the country tries to revive an industry that once promised too much but instead struggled to find its footing. The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP), the body that links investors to government departments, will hold the Mineral Wealth Conference from October 1 to 2, drawing participants from East Africa and beyond.
“We hope the conference can attract investment in Uganda’s mining sector, which will utilize the mineral resources for social and economic transformation of the country,” Irene Nakalyango, the chief executive officer UCMP, said in a statement.
During the heady days of copper, Uganda was considered a potential mining bellwether for the region. It was until the collapse of the copper industry in the Idi Amin era of the 1970s that the country lost this outlook.
While other minerals such as cobalt have been mined, nothing has come close to the boom years when copper made headlines. Efforts to breathe life into the industry are ongoing.
In March this year, the ministry of Finance inaugurated the Business Licensing Reform Committee to look into the mining laws and see how they can be improved to attract investors. The BLRC came up with recommendations which the ministry is expected to consider.
The ministry of Energy has an airborne geophysical survey data acquired through aerial survey, from which investors can use to make informed decisions. The ministry also says that geological mapping and mineral assessment in Southern Uganda has been completed.
The ministry is also carrying out an almost similar survey for the northern region. Government officials are expected to exploit the mineral wealth conference to convince investors that the country is now ready to take the industry to the next level.
“Senior executive leadership will gather to discuss cutting edge technologies and operational investments that will drive the mining industry for years to come. It will be an exciting period,” said Nakalyango.
Uganda is known to have such lucrative minerals like gold, copper, nickel, platinum, marble, among others, many of which remain untapped. To exploit these minerals, a lot of studies need to be carried out.
“We need to distinguish between mineral occurrences and potential mines. There is a large gap between the two. This means that Uganda has a long way to go in developing its mining industry,” said South Africa’s Sabine Anderson, whose firm, Severin mining, focuses on exploratory work in East Africa.