Miners told to embrace Transparency & Accountability
Artisanal and Small Scale Miners have been urged to be champions of Transparency and Accountability in the Mining sector. This was during a stakeholders' meeting in Mubende-Kassanda sub-region organised by the Global Rights Alert in partnership with the Uganda Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) secretariat and the finance ministry, last week.
The three-day engagement created space for the miners who once faced eviction from a mining site in Mubende district to directly interface with members of the EITI MultiStakeholder Group (MSG). The MSG is an independent body whose cardinal role is to provide oversight over EITI implementation. Speaking during the event, Christopher Emanzi, the director of programmes at Global Rights Alert, said: “We are here to support the artisan and small scale miners to bring sanity and have an organised sector. This can only happen if they understand what EITI entails. There are many issues around the mining sector. In 2018, the Auditor General's report pointed out that Uganda was producing less gold but more gold was being exported. So we asked ourselves where was the rest of the gold coming from. Are there issues to do with accountability, in terms of what we were mining because you cannot export more than what we are producing," he said. Emanzi said to do away with this, miners need to be more accountable and declare all that they produce.
WHAT IS EITI?
Saul Ongaria, the national coordinator of EITI, described it as an international standard for openness around the governance of oil, gas and mineral resources. "With EITI, the Government discloses how much they receive from extractive companies operating in their country and these companies disclose how much they pay," he said Ongaria said the Government that signs up to implement the EITI standard must meet six requirements around contract disclosure, exploration and production, revenue collection and allocation, environmental and social impact, and overall outcomes and impact. He said EITI will bring together government institutions that are linked to the business and companies of natural resources and it will also involve members from the civil society organisations, who will be used as an ear and voice of the vulnerable. "EITI is here to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from this sector. Many countries are blessed with resources such as gold, diamonds, oil, but with time, many of these eventually grow poor than they should have been. The resources do not develop the community," he said
UGANDA'S FIRST EITI REPORT
Gloria Mugambe, the head of Uganda National Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, said Uganda was formally admitted to the ETTI as a candidate member country in August 2020. She said the country is expected to submit the first EITI report in February 2022. Full membership will be achieved after validation of the report, which will take place in 2023. "The report needs to be wellprepared to detail the key aspects of Uganda's extractive sector following the framework and guidelines provided in the EITI standard in order for Uganda to be validated," Mugambe said. She added that if Uganda does not make the report public, it risks being suspended from EITI. "So we are fully aware of the implications of joining what is required of us, also any amendment to a gold contract that is done after January means that the entire contract must be published. These are some of the things that we signed up to and we hope that we shall be able to adhere to them.
WHAT SHOULD SMALL SCALE MINERS DO
Eng. David Ssebagala, a senior inspector in the directorate of geological survey and mines at the energy ministry, said all stakeholders have to be transparent "Make your mining business legal. Many artisanal miners are already getting licences so that they work within the law but getting the licence is not the last stage. The moment you are issued with a licence, it has working obligations and one of them is you need to submit monthly returns. You report on what you have done, mined, how much is being recovered and how many people you employ. You submit that information back to the Government on how much money you have spent during the period so that we can have all the information for purposes of understanding the contribution of the sector to the economy," he said. He asked miners to document and generate as much geological information as possible about the areas in which they work. He said this will go a long way in helping them if they want to get financing from banks. "The financing can only be based on scientific information about the areas in which they are mining. If you do not have that information, there will be no proof that what you are mining is actually there," Ssebagala said. Isaac Ntujju, the principal environment inspector at the National Environment Management Authority, asked the miners to take responsibility in as far as environmental management is concerned.
WHAT MINERS SAY
JOHN BOSCO BUKYA, HEAD OF MUBENDE UNITED MINERS ASSEMBLY - I know what EITI entails. My request to the Multi-Stakeholder Group is to consider including representatives of small miners on the body, so that we too can be represented. We know issues affecting us than they do.
SAAD KAJOBA, MINER - My appeal to the Government is to consider giving us extension workers as they did to the agricultural sector. This will help us do exploration sampling, selective sampling and also get technical guidance on how mining operational sampling should be handled. Miners in Mubende-Kassanda sub-region use mercury to concentrate gold without protective gear.
JALIA ZABIBU, CEO OF MUBENDE WOMEN GOLD MINERS ASSOCIATION - I had no idea about EITI yet I lead a group of women miners. But after interfacing with the MultiStakeholder Group and the information being broken down in Luganda, I have understood what contribution we need to make for the first report to be published.
EMMANUEL KIBIRIGE, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF MUBENDE UNITED MINERS ASSEMBLY The move by the MultiStakeholder Group to take us through the EITI standard is good. We pledge to co-operate and work together to ensure transparency. As miners, we ask the Government for more space to expand. This space is inadequate for 22 associations with 50 exploration pits. If they can allocate us land in our former working area, it will help us expand and the Government will also benefit.
Article as Published in the New Vision (June 8th, 2021)