Buhweju RDC to Close All Illegal Mines
Emmy Kateera Turyabagyenyi, the Resident District Commissioner(RDC) Buhweju district in his continued fight against illegal miners, has strongly warned illegal artisanal miners in the district, saying they must leave.
Kateera says in the areas of Kalembe and muti, unbearable environmental degradation is taking toll, because people have left every other activity, and have ventured into mining, citing the illegal activities are facilitated by the rich people in the area.
The RDC says in a district security committee meeting this week, they agreed to visit these areas next week to close and cove all the illegal mines there.
Kateera last week also closed a mine in muti, estimated to had been employing 10,000 people, for lack of authorisation from the environment body, and interfering on the water source for a 1.2 billion government water project.
The RDC reiterates that these artisanal miners can only remain if they have Impact Assesment Certificate from National Environment Management Authority(NEMA), which authorizes the mining and obliges them to close the mining pits once the exercise is done.
Another challenge that Kateera mentions is the reluctancy of the miners to refrain from using mercury, inspite of the fact that it was discouraged. Mercury is used in all gold mines in the country to sieve or attract ‘gold dusts’ from soil.
A 2012 report authored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) titled, ‘Analysis of formalization approaches in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector experiences’: A case study of Uganda, cautioned the constant use of mercury in Uganda’s mining sector.
The report noted gold mines in Mubende district, Buhweju goldfield in Mashonga, Buhweju district, Tira in Busia and Rupa in Moroto district Karamoja sub- region, which used mercury to harvest gold. mercury is a metal that has been associated with damage to the body including the brain, lungs and kidneys.
Kateera says although miners in Bisya and Bihanga have abandoned the use, those in Katenga have continued, something he says they are working around to stop.