The Government of Uganda has officially kicked off the national wide biometric registration of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (ASMs) in the country.
Mr. Bukya John Bosco, the Chairman, Uganda Association of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (UGAASM) confirmed the report and said the exercise is a major step by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. The biometric registration of ASMs was launched in March 2019, and the Ministry of Energy engaged ACEMP a civil society organisation that has been sensitizing the miners ahead of the registration. Bukya said the registration exercise will be conducted by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in conjunction with UGAASM and ACEMP as a consulting institution among other crucial stakeholders.
“Biometric registration will today begin with the leaders of miners under UGAASM, and then the leaders will go to their respective areas and spread the good news of biometric registration of artisanal miners to ensure that no one is left behind,” Bukya said.
The biometric register of ASMs, he argued will help stakeholders acquire segregated data on miners and aid planning and inclusiveness. The biometric registration exercise will capture finger prints and other identification of artisanal and small scale miners.
“I am happy that majority of the ASMs are at least registered at district level. Our aim is to make sure that what happened to Mubende does not happen to any other mine site in Uganda. We thank government for recognition and this partnership is a clear evidence that it is recognizing us. We appreciate the level of recognition in the Mining and Minerals bill 2021 that is currently before parliament, at least government is addressing our concerns,” Bukya noted.
The UGAASM will continue organizing its members and recruiting new ones so that ASMs can do business formally and sustainably. The executive director Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy (ACEMP), Mr. Bwesigye Don Binyina described the biometric registration of ASMs as a commendable milestone.
“Artisanal and Small Scale Mining and Quarrying in Uganda is a likelihood and key driver for growth and social economic development, therefore regulation and formalization of the sector is critical,” Don Binyina said.
Bukya also expressed concern over the delayed lifting of the ban on the export of unprocessed minerals. In 2011 President Yoweri Museveni directed the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to ban the export of unprocessed mineral ore, which has negatively affected miners dealing is 3Ts (Tin, Tungsten, Tantalite), iron ore among others.
To date, the ban remains in place. “The ban has over stayed and our colleagues are suffering, because they have stock piles of minerals but they cannot sell due to the ban. Interestingly, the Ministry continues to issues licences despite the ban,” Bukya said. He noted that recently, some members of Katonga Miners Association one of the newly licensed artisanal mining associations were arrested due to stock piling of the mineral ore in contravention of the ban. He implored the President to urgently lift the ban.