Ugandan Artisan Miners Associations are pushing government to put in place laws that protect their mines from being taken by foreign investors, leaving them and their families in abject poverty and in a state of hopelessness.
The Artisan miners from Western, Eastern and Karamoja Regions voiced their concerns on Friday, during a consultative meeting in Kampala.
“Minerals are God given and no one has a right to grab and extract minerals on a land where my ancestor were buried”, said John Bosco Bukya, Mubende United Miners Assembly Chairman.
He said the recent eviction of Gold miners in Mubende district to pave way for a foreign investor is a gross violation of indigenous miners’ rights to their God given mineral assets.
“A law should be put in place to give priority to indigenous miners because they pay taxes to government and employ Ugandans, unlike foreign investors who take the profits from the extracted Gold out of the country”, he added.
Mubende United Miners Assembly Secretary General Emmanuel Kibirige laboured to narrate ordeal the evicted miners went through.
“Our only livelihood of mining gold was deprived from us and the many employees under our care lost jobs and are now living in abject poverty”, he said.
He said government should amend mining laws after consulting Ugandan Mining Associations, in order to empower Ugandan Mining Association.
Didas Muhumuza, Action Aid, consultant in the extractive industry advised mining associations to register themselves with relevant Government Authorities, to avoid being evicted.
He said the evictions of miners from Mubende should be a lesson to be learned by all mining Associations in Uganda.
“You should form legally accepted Mining Associations to be protected by Government and to learn from each other on how to promote the extractive industry”, he said.