The Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa has welcomed a new five-year project that seeks to eliminate the use of mercury by artisanal and small scale miners to carry out gold mining in Uganda has been launched.
Named PlanetGold Uganda, the project targeting 4,500 artisanal miners working in 11 mines around the country aims to reduce the use of mercury by at 15 tonnes over the next five years.
Speaking during a meeting between the project managers and stakeholders at Kampala Sheraton Hotel on Friday, Nankabirwa said the project is good news to the country.
“This is good news that planet Uganda is being launched to see more than 4000 being helped. If you save 4500 artisanal miners, each of them must be having like 10 family members and helping them is crucial. Artisanal miners have to be assisted and when you do this you will be supporting their family members,” Nankabirwa said.
“Tell them what you would like them to do since it is for their survival. The planet is now fighting back and will not accept to die anyhow. We need to do sustainable exploitation of resources that God gave us. We have the legal frameworks to support this project and we can partner even in enforcement. We should not leave things on paper.”
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is said to be the world’s largest source of anthropogenic emissions of mercury pollution and the new project seeks to deal with this state of affairs.
Speaking on Friday, Minister Nankabirwa emphasized the need to support the artisanal and small scale minors with alternatives in this move to eliminate the use of mercury while carrying out gold mining.
“Whenever you bring a policy shift, you must make sure you have created an alternative because enforcement becomes very difficult. These miners will be determined to use whatever method. We have seen what other countries have done, we have been told the cost of this equipment and are affordable.”
would like to formally introduce to you the PlanetGold Uganda project and to interest you in the project's upcoming annual stakeholder's meeting.
The PlanetGold Uganda project is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), executed by IMPACT and in partnership with Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) in the Energy ministry.
According to Lynn Gitu, the project head PlanetGold, the project works together with local communities in Uganda to reduce the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the world’s largest source of anthropogenic emissions of mercury pollution while improving the health and lives of local mining communities.
The project will be in Uganda for five years and will be working in 11 mine sites in seven districts.
“We want to support artisanal and small-scale miners in the gold sector of the county to come together and cooperate in legal entities like cooperatives, associations, companies limited by shares and partnership but also see that they have together, they can access finance to increase production and do their work cleaner by getting rid of mercury use and use better equipment,” Gitu said.
“The alternative solutions to use of mercury in gold mining are tools and equipment already tried and tested in many countries around the world and available through the free market economy. They can be able to acquire them for use in artisanal and small-scale mining of gold.
She said at the end of the five years, the project hopes to create a positive story about small scale and artisanal miners in Uganda.
“We want to change the way people look at small scale and artisanal gold miners in Uganda.