Karukara ward in Hamugwa town council, Rubanda district was the focal point of a visit by a government delegation to assess and address an ongoing dispute surrounding the iron ore mines in the area.
The government delegation was led by the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Ruth Nankabirwa, accompanied by state minister for Trade David Bahati, Peter Lokeris, the state minister for minerals and Wilfred Nuwagaba, the area MP among others.
For the past two years, the Kigezi Iron Ore Artisanal Mineral Association, a community collective consisting of over 700 indigenous members has been entangled in a conflict with Moses Kamuntu, a businessman and MP for Rubanda West, over the control and benefits of the mines.
The association, primarily composed of women, has accused Kamuntu of failure to fulfill his promises to the community and exploiting the area's resources without providing any benefits to the locals.
During the visit by the government delegation on Thursday, key issues were raised by the community.
The community members requested for a licence for the local artisanal miners association but also sought the settlement of the unpaid dues by MP Kamuntu to the affected members as well as a fair resolution of the pending legal disputes related to the mines.
Speaking in response to the concerns, the Energy Minister, Ruth Nankabirwa assured the community that future mining activities would be conducted in an organized and responsible manner.
“The mining activities will be conducted with guidance of the technical experts from my ministry. We will also educate you about your rights and ensure that the prices for the iron ore are determined fairly , based on global market rates,” Nankabirwa said.
“I am going to work with your association to facilitate the granting of a licence to you as requested.”
At the same event, MP Kamuntu publicly renounced his interest in the mines, eliciting cheers from the locals.
Expressing gratitude for the minister's visit, the chairman of the community association, Dr. Narcis Kabateirene, commended the entire delegation for taking time out of their busy schedules to assess the situation and work towards resolving the dispute.
Dr. Kabateirene also emphasized the importance of unity among association members, urging them to remain steadfast in their pursuit of objectives, which include the establishment of a SACCO aimed at improving the lives of the locals.
Minister Nankabirwa and her delegation are currently on a tour of the Kigezi region aimed at gaining further insights into the region's mining sector.