Artisanal gold miners at Kisiita mining site in Uganda have been given two months by the government to vacate the site or face forceful eviction.
Mr Peter Lokeris, the State Minister of Mineral Development said the planned eviction is aimed at organising and streamlining the sector. More than 30,000 artisanal gold miners in Kassanda District are set to be affected.
“What is being done is in line with what the President directed the ministry to do. All artisanal and illegal miners are being sensitised and given opportunity to voluntarily vacate the area to avoid further depletion of the sector,” Mr Lokeris said.
The miners had earlier been sensitised about the voluntary vacation, but failed to comply, forcing President Museveni to issue another directive in May. However, Mr Rahim Mukasa Kayondo, the chairperson of Kitumbi Small Scale and Artisanal Miner’s Association, opposed the move, saying they are shareholders in the company that was legally licensed to carry out gold mining in the area.
“The government cannot say that we are illegal, we are stakeholders of Kisiita Mining Company though it had managerial issues which are being blown out of portion by some interested parties and misleading the President,” said Mr Rahim.
Mr Zimula Kasirye, the district chairperson, said the district has not been collecting revenue since the miners have been dodging taxes. He noted that the district could have earned Shs3 trillion in revenue if the artisanal miners were paying taxes.
“The district is not benefiting from gold mining. Whenever we approach the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development for our share of revenue, the ministry claims miners don’t pay taxes since they are not licensed,” said Kasirye.
Ms Phoebe Namulindwa, the Resident District Commissioner, said the move is aimed at permitting the government to handover the mines to the company expected to operate it.