The improved security situation in Karamoja in the last 10 years seems to have opened way for investment in to Karamoja’s mining sector, the region has witnessed growing government interest and the influx of external actors who are looking for business and investment opportunities. The mineral sector currently attracts particular attention as the mineral potential of the region is just being revealed. The region is known to possess economically viable deposits of marble and limestone, gold, silver, iron ore, wolfram and others. About 64% of land in Karamoja is under mining concessions with over 136 licenses active for prospecting and exploration, the local population is also involved in artisanal small scale mining more so in gold, marble and limestone extraction.
However, Mining has increasingly become a source of conflicts among the different actors participating in the sector and stakeholders include foreign and local mining companies, central and local government institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations, artisanal miners, traders and the communities. All the above named stakeholders have differing vested interests, with their relationships being shaped by the pursuit for economic benefits, the realization of land and human rights and better management of the environment.
Issues in Karamoja’s mining sector
Local community access to their rights to land still remains a big challenge in Karamoja’s mining sector, Mining companies like Jan Magal, DAO have operated in Rupa without clear information on how they acquired the surface rights. Tororo cement has operated for more than 15 years and claims ownership of close to 50 square kilometers without any knowledge of the land owners. Even, upon acquisition of the 2nd mining lease in 2017, Tororo cement limited paid only 50 million to 37 land owners in 2018. This is arising question how mining companies that show interest in Karamoja’s extractive sector acquire land, how they develop compensation strategies, and how they address land owner displacement without consideration of their livelihoods.
Payment of Royalties by Mining companies also reflects company’s lack of compliance with the mining laws and policies and respect of their obligations, Royalty payments often do not reach landowners, and payment problems are compounded by the complex nature of land ownership, inconsistencies in the policies and legal frameworks and increased corruption in the sector.
Apart from being unable to enter into negotiations with companies and investors, communities’ lack of legal proof of land ownership makes it difficult for them to acquire location licenses that would enable them to undertake mining by themselves. This is disastrous for the artisanal miners in the region, who depend on mining for their survival, but often operate under socially and environmentally destructive conditions.
The presence of speculators is also hampering the development of the mining sector in Karamoja, with over 136 licenses in the region and not more than 10 feasible mining companies present in Karamoja, There is a big threat of land grabbing by speculators holding licenses in a bid to sell the license to potential investors.
KDF interventions on issues of mining
Karamoja development Forum working towards strengthening community institutions on mining to be able to lobby for mineral rights and benefits and to comply with socio-ecological standards, This is done through building capacity of community institutions like Rupa Community development Trust, Katikekile Action for Development, SOGDEK and TICODEP through trainings aimed at Increasing knowledge and capacity of communities to advocate for compliance with Ugandan mining laws and policy.
KDF through its advocacy efforts lobby for policy review of unfair provisions in the law on mining and natural resource exploitation, KDF participates in local, National and international advocacy events where key issues pertaining to policy are raised and discussed
KDF also recognizes that, Dialogues and information sharing platforms are key in addressing the most pressing issues in the mining sector. KDF organizes multi stakeholder meeting for sharing information and also supports community dialogue initiatives with the different stakeholders in the mining sector.
We conduct Research and Document on mining rights in Karamoja, and produce policy briefs, video documentaries and Magazines.
Furthermore, KDF carries out mass information sharing and awareness raising through radio talk shows, spot messages, Community awareness raising meetings and production of IEC materials