There is increasing speculation in Uganda’s mining sector with several companies holding up to 900 licences. Some of them – if not most – are not operational. In Karamoja, there are more than 136 mining licenses. In the region, there are 5 Mining leases, 2 leases held by Tororo cement in Tapac, 1 lease by DAO Marble holding and 1 lease, Jan Magal in Rupa and latest lease acquired by San Belt Company in Rupa Sub County. Other mining companies holding location, prospecting and exploration licences seem to be very invisible in the region.
The licenses are held by most of the mining companies to speculate potential investors in market. There seem to be no technical and financial assessment of some of the mining companies applying for licenses at the Directorate of Geological survey and Mines and some of them therefore acquire licences to target potential investment projects.
A number of land grabs in the region have happened because of the increasing number of speculators claiming ownership of chunks of land. Speculators claim communal property and acquiring private title through bribery, political influence peddling, official corruption and manipulation of the local community, some of the speculators have also taken advantage of the ignorance of the local communities and therefore bribe and manipulate them in a bid to acquire land
A big challenge also falls within the mandate of the directorate of Geological survey and Mines, there is inadequate monitoring of some of the mining companies holding licenses, and Companies such as Jan Magal have abandoned the site while the license is still running. Some other companies have prospecting licenses but do the actual exploration. Other companies just hold licenses but are not feasible in the region.
Honourable Achia Remigio lamented that ‘’some of the mining companies with mining licenses are brief cased companies who don’t have the resources to put up a factory’’
Speculation and the Land Question
In 2010, Peter Amodoi assistant commission at the office of the prime minister acquired 550 acres of communal land in Napak district and transferred to UIA for construction of an industrial park.
In 2012, Ferronia and pro-solutions limited acquired estimated 23,000 acres of mineral rich communal land, acre sold at around 20,000 each 2014, Peter Lokwang acquired about 60,000 square km of land in Lopei Napak district under personal title, speculative move targeting infrastructural projects and extractive activities in the district.
2018, in Rupa-Moroto, Ateker cement acquired around 443 acres of communal land in Rupa and Katikekile in a move to avail land for a joint venture to savannah and Uganda development corporation forcing the company to seek land elsewhere acquiring 221 acres in Nadunget facilitated by elite brokers.
In 2016, a battle over ownership of Kamusalaba rock, communal land under grazing was claimed ownership by Welt Machinen entering in a compensation battle with the Chines road and bridge construction company. 23 Billion Compensation was paid to Welt Machinen.