Government has embarked on efforts to have Kilembe Mines in Kasese district, the country’s largest copper mine, revived in order to promote economic development as well as creating more employment opportunities to the local communities.
This follows Cabinet’s approval on Monday to have the mines redeveloped.
The area is estimated to have deposits of copper in excess of 4,000,000 tonnes and an undetermined amount of cobalt ore. In addition, there is approximately 2,800 acres of unexplored acreage at the site.
In December last year, the district’s local government presented a Shs 86.05bn business plan to the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) Chief Coordinator, Gen (Rtd) Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh, which included among other things “fast tracking the functionalization of Kilembe Copper Mines.”
Bigogo Sibendire, the LCV district Chairperson told Gen Saleh that: “Government should urgently source for a credible investor to take over Kilembe Copper Mines with avenues to maximise local content including labour, food supplies, social services support or capitalise.”
Now, government says its aim in the rehabilitation of the assets of Kilembe mines and resuscitation of Kilembe mining operations, is to enable it contribute to the general economic development of Kasese district.
Uganda also seeks to exploit more minerals in the area “to add to the known reserve base, thereby enhancing the viability of mining operations.”
Once a major producer of copper and cobalt, Kilembe was abandoned by Canadian firm Falconbridge in the 1970s when Uganda’s economy stagnated under the erratic leadership of former president, Idi Amin Dada.
The rehabilitation will according to government, attract private sector capital, management and technical expertise, with a commitment to install efficient and modern technology to maximise the future of Kilembe Mines Limited operating results.
Previous government efforts to revive the mine, were stymied by a downturn in the commodities market and a failed 2013 deal with a Chinese investor, eventually cancelled after years of slow progress and missed targets.
This is yet another attempt by government to support the people of Kasese to be able to maximally harness the district’s potential and opportunities.