President Yoweri Museveni has ordered artisan miners in Buhweju district to vacate the gold mines and stop interfering with government programs of large scale gold exploration.
The President made the directive Friday while officially opening the week-long retreat of NRM Parliamentary caucus that is underway at the National Leadership Training Institute in Kyankwanzi.
Museveni was responding to concerns raised by Buhweju District Woman MP, Oliver Katwesigye who reported that the citizens in Buhweju mines have continued to be tortured and arrested by the UPDF officials barring them from accessing the mines which are their source of livelihood.
The artisanal miners argue that on January 30, 2017, under Buhweju Small Scale Miners Association, they obtained a prospecting licence to the area and consequently applied for an exploration licence on July 3, 2017.
But issuance of the exploration license is still pending and they have since been stopped from carrying out any mining activities.
Their woes were even made worse when they were sued by a Chinese company accusing them of tresspass. The company claims it has acquired an exploration license to operate in the area from government.
While speaking in Kyankwanzi, President Museveni discouraged the UPDF personnel from using force to push the local artisanal miners off the area.
However, he noted that these miners are so stubborn and should rather behave and leave the mines peacefully.
Museveni related the minerals to children who find bread crambs at home and they are dying to have the bread despite being told by their mother to wait and be served.
“Those artisan miners are indisciplined and they should be disciplined and be chased from the mines; they should however not be chased by force and I will come and chase them myself by talking not them,” Museveni said.
He said that the people in Buhweju are simply looking for bread crambs and haven’t realized the intensity of the gold the district is sitting on yet they have no capacity to handle it.
“Buhweju and Ibanda are sitting on huge gold, we were recently there with a team of foreigners and they found gold of one and half kilometre thickness. The artisan miners should get out and not interfere with people seeking big gold,” Museveni said.
“Tell the people to stop interfering with government plans, we shall call them back when things are clear,” Museveni ordered.