Around the world, conflict minerals are still a problem as they fund armed conflicts or other illegal practices. Uganda is a high-risk area, as it is close to conflict zones like South Sudan. The European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) promotes responsible mining in Uganda. There, Chris Musiime manages a project with Optima Mines. "We need to educate people on how they can avoid trading conflict materials."
This EPRM project aims to contribute to the sustainable development of Uganda and a reduction in conflict minerals through training and education.
Step 1: Education
The European Union Conflict Minerals Regulation requires European Union importers to source responsible minerals. The regulation focuses on tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG). "We aim to limit the amount of 3TGs from conflict areas in the global market. Uganda is a high-risk area because it is close to conflict zones, like South Sudan," says Chris. Now, Optima Mines, the Ugandan government and the community work together to officially register small-scale miners. They also promote good governance in the Ugandan mining sector.
Step 2: Legal recognition
Nearly 90% of miners in Uganda are small-scale miners. Until recently, the Ugandan mining law did not recognise them. Chris explains, "The government was reviewing this law. So, we created a platform for small-scale miners to be heard. Now, the law recognises them. The next step is training them to mine responsibly."
Now that the law recognises small-scale mining, miners must follow certain regulations. For example, they must take steps to mine more responsibly. Also, the government can now tax small-scale miners and use the income to improve public services. Chris explains the benefits of this, "A tax on legal and responsible mining creates more income for the national government. And royalties create more income for local governments. They can invest this income in their regions to improve public services. Miners will also receive more income as they can set higher prices."
The future of Ugandan mining
So far, the EPRM project has helped 6,380 Ugandan miners through training, registration, access to markets and financial support. Also, 14 women-led associations are now active. Thanks to the training, these associations were able to formalise their work and improve their access to formal markets.
Chris is optimistic about the future of Ugandan mining. "Getting European trade certification is a great opportunity for Uganda. With it, Uganda can trade directly with Europe. This means more income as we no longer need an intermediary. This will help contribute to Uganda's goals to beat poverty and improve the mining sector and the miners' standard of living."
Would you like to know more?
The European Partnership of Responsible Minerals (EPRM) supports this project. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency serves as the secretariat for EPRM.
Would you like to learn more about the projects EPRM funds in mine sites? Visit the EPRM project pages.