Government has said it is going to restart the redevelopment of Kilembe Mines after 30 years, calling upon expressions of interest from investors to help in ensuring the restoration of the Mines.
Kilembe Mines is located in Kasese district, at the foot of the great Rwenzori Mountain ranges and copper mineralization in the Rwenzori Mountains is reported to have first been recorded in 1906 and has been explored since the 1920s.
In 1950, Kilembe Mines Limited (KML) was incorporated and production began in 1956 and it steadily increased to a peak of about 18,000 tonnes of copper cathode per year in the early 1970s.
The operation included a copper smelter in Jinja, and copper concentrate was transported by the railway from Kasese to Jinja.
The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu and Minister of State for Privatisation and Investment, Evelyn Anite said in a joint press statement that the redevelopment of Kilembe Mines will have a catalytic effect of facilitating industrialisation, offer significant employment opportunities for Ugandans, and increase revenue.
To achieve this, they have invited companies to express their interest in partnering with the government through a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA).
The restoration of the mines to an attractive state, and the process of procuring an investor is a significant step to achieve this goal, according to the government.
Copper extraction ceased in 1982 due to the degenerated smelter in Jinja, the global collapse of mineral commodity prices, dilapidated equipment, high inflation, and the insecurity at the time. KML has since been under care and maintenance.
For 30 years, the mine has been dormant, however, the government has made several attempts at revival.
The mines comprise a greenfield exploration area, a brownfield project comprising of a hard rock copper mine and processing plant, a hydro power plant known as Mubuku I, auxiliary mine facilities, cobalt-rich tailings, and associated minerals ‘(collectively referred to as “Kilembe Mines”) operated by Kilembe Mines Limited.
In 2020, three devastating floods destroyed infrastructure at the mines including a tailings dam, Mobuku I hydropower plant, the industrial and domestic water system, the administration block, and workshops.
The two ministers said they have deployed the UPDF Engineering Brigade to carry out restoration works and restore the mines to an attractive state. They are already on the ground.
They noted that the mineral wealth of Kilembe Mines has unmatched potential and it has known reserves and resources of copper in ore and tailings. It has potential for cobalt, copper, and associated base metals within the mining lease and exploration licence areas.
Copper and Cobalt are critical minerals in making clean energy technologies for the current global transition to clean energy. The current price of copper is between $ 10,000 and $ 10,500 per tonne.