Uganda seeks investors to revive copper mining

Seetao 2022-04-18 14:20
  • Uganda's Mining Revival Plan is an important attempt to improve the economic environment by exploiting its rich natural resources
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Uganda is inviting investors to express interest in restarting a large copper mine in the western part of the country that also has large cobalt deposits, the Ugandan government said in recent days.

The Kilembe mine, located at the foot of the snow-covered Rwenzori Mountains on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, contains about 4 million tonnes of ore, estimated by government geologists, with 1.98 percent copper and 0.17 percent cobalt.

“We have invited companies to express their interest in working with the government through a mineral production sharing agreement,” Uganda’s finance and mining ministers said in a joint statement. “The redevelopment of Kilembe Mines will be a catalyst for industrialisation, providing vital employment. opportunities and increase revenue.” The statement did not specify when the government expected to select investors.

Production at the mine began in 1956 and peaked at 18,000 tonnes of copper cathode per year in the early 1970s before Canadian company Falconbridge ceased activity due to low copper prices and political instability. The mine has since been largely abandoned. The Kilembe project currently includes a greenfield exploration area, a brownfield copper mine, a processing plant, a small hydropower station and cobalt-rich tailings, the ministers said in the statement.

Previous attempts to revive the mine have failed due to a slump in commodities markets and a failed deal with investors in 2013, and were eventually called off after years of slow progress and failure to meet targets. But with copper hitting record highs earlier in 2022 amid supply concerns, investors are looking for new sources of the metal for electric vehicles.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is eager to expand mining of the country's mineral wealth - including gold, base metals, uranium, rare earths, iron, titanium, vermiculite and diamonds - to help fuel growth. Editor / Xu Shengpeng