By Nelson Wesonga
Kampala — The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will biometrically register Uganda’s artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM).
This will be in line with a new mineral policy, it says, through its Financial Year 2018/19 policy statement.
The State minister for Minerals, Mr Peter Lokeris, in a telephone interview yesterday, said the registration is to establish who is involved in artisanal and small-scale mining.
“You know all minerals belong to the government. But there are some people who know how to spot minerals and start mining illegally,” Mr Lokeris said.
He added: “This [biometric registration] is meant to streamline [artisanal and small-scale mining] so that we know who is where.”
Mr Lokeris said if the government is not in the know who is involved in artisanal and small-scale mining, some of the ASMs could cross borders; mine or sell the illegally mined minerals and conflict.
He said the registration is expected to start later this third quarter, although he could not there and then say how much has been budgeted for the exercise.
But according to a House Budget Committee May 2018 report, biometric registration of the ASMs will cost $350,000 (about Shs1.3b).
Mr Lokeris said the ministry is targeting 1,200 ASMs for a start but would register more and more with time.
Mr George Onega, a small-scale miner in Busia District, in eastern Uganda, said though he had not been aware of the government’s plans to biometrically register ASMs, he welcomes it.
“I support it, 100 per cent. It is very good because if a miner is operating without being known to the government, it will be hard for the government to get royalties,” Mr Onega said.