By Edward Makanika and Fahad Masereka
Kasese district leadership are excited about a government plan to revamp and rehabilitate Kilembe copper mines in Kasese.
Cabinet signed off in April 2019 the redevelopment plan of the Kilembe copper mines which among other things calls for the expeditious sourcing of potential investors in the copper mine after the first group Tibet Hima failed. Government repossessed the mines 2-years ago after the cancellation a 25-years concession it had granted to Chinese Firm Tibet Hima Mining Company.
Throughout 2018 leaders and other residents of Kasese advocated for the need to revamp Kilembe mines which also attracted the attention of the chief coordinator Operation Wealth Creation General Salim Saleh.
Kilembe mines was a major source of income for Uganda in the 1960’s through 1970’s. The mines suffered a setback in 1977 after President Idi Amin Dada ordered the Canadian investors to relinquesh control to ill prepared Ugandan managers.
Amin’s decision was also fueled by the steep fall of worldwide copper ore prices which thereafter called for the complete closure of the mines in 1982.
Kasese municipality mayor Kabyanga Godfrey is optimistic that once the mines are reopened, over 4000 jobs will be created. The jobs will range from security personnel, power line maintenance staff and a few skeleton administrative staff.
A former Kilembe mines worker Mugisha Muhanguzi hopes that the mines will be revived with new technology. New personnel needs to be trained properly to ensure standardized work in the mine.
Muhanguzi noted that unlike the railway line which collapsed in confusion leaving a lot of staff unpaid or owed arrears, Kilembe mines wound up in an organised manner. He says he hopes that the new Kilembe mines maintain this culture of paying its workers.
He asks the new managers of Kilembe managers to cater for workers safety as in the past the mines lost personnel to underground mining accidents.