Uganda: Museveni, Kigezi Youth Disagree On Iron Ore Mining

President Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) youth leaders from Kigezi sub-region on Sunday disagreed on what should be done with the piles of iron ore that has not been exported for over a year.

The NRM presidential candidate who was meeting the youths from Kisoro, Rubanda, Kabale, Rukiga, Kanungu and Rukungiri District at Karo Primary School near his country home of Rwakitura in Kiruhura District rejected the request to allow miners export iron ore that had already been mined by the time he placed a ban in February last year.

While addressing an investors’ round table meeting at State House Entebbe early last year, Mr Museveni banned the exportation of raw iron ore saying that Uganda loses a lot by selling such minerals without value addition.

With that ban in place, the youth leaders said that thousands of their colleagues who were employed in the iron ore mining industry are languishing in poverty and requested that the iron ore piles left on the roadsides be exported as the area awaits a steel-manufacturing factory.

“The youth of Rubanda District are concerned with the Wolfram and Iron Ore mining. They say since this was closed, they ask you to explain what happened. We request that you allow them to export what was already mined at least so that they can earn an income,” said Mr John Bosco Namara the NRM Youth Chairman for Kabale District while presenting a regional memorandum.

The youth reported that 2500 of their colleagues in Kabale District are affected while over 6000 are struggling to export their iron ore in Rubanda District.

However, Mr Museveni rejected their pleas saying all the mined iron ore has to wait for the steel-manufacturing factory that is planned for Rubanda District. The President said Ugandans were losing $480 (about Shs1.7m) on every ton of raw ore they exported.

“What you used to do was squandering wealth on the iron ore you were selling. The Indians were using your ignorance to underpay you. Uganda’s iron ore is second best in the world. Only that of Peru is better than ours. A ton of smelted steel is at $550 (about Shs2m)” Mr Museveni said.

The President promised that the government is going to implement its plan of constructing a steel factory in Rubanda District which will add value to the iron ore and also create jobs for regional youth.

“The Indians who have been using your ignorance get $550, get jobs for his children and earn income. We are going to construct a steel factory in Rubanda. Put your efforts there instead of asking us to allow you to eat dust from your wealth. I don’t know who gave you licenses to export iron ore but for sure the one who did that is an enemy,” he said.