By Wilson Asiimwe
After eight months of waiting Tibet Hima Company, the mining company that signed a concession with the Government, took over Kilembe Copper Mines from Kilembe Mines Ltd, which has been managing the mines since 1975.
During the handover ceremony, the former general manager for Kilembe Mines, Fred kyakonye, said the Government is determined to revive the mines and that that is why it cleared the Chinese firm to take it over.
He also said in a concession that was signed last year between the Government and Tibet Hima Company, it was agreed that the Chinese firm works alongside Kilembe Mines Ltd for eight months.
He said the Government’s technical team will also remain in Kilembe to monitor Tibet Hima Company for three months.
“These mines have been redundant for many years, but soon the production of copper and cobalt will start,” said Kyakonye.
He named the property that the Government has handed over to Tibet Hima Company as land in Kasese and Jinja districts, housing estates in Kasese and the hydro power dam at Maluku in Kasese.
Tibet Hima Company’s project manager Alex Kwatampora said the company would rehabilitate the Mubuku Hydro Power Dam and increase its production capacity from five to 14 Megawatts, and also rehabilitate the refinery.
“We will start by rehabilitating because we have been involved in exploration of copper. After that, we shall start mining and reefing because everything will be done from Kasese unlike in the past where the refinery was done in Jinja,” noted Kwatampora.
He said before River Nyamwamba burst its bank, the company had collected over 80% of the data during a geological survey. He added that the company had also finalized the design of the milling machine since the current one is in a bad state.
“We are also negotiating with the Government to take over the management of Kasese Cobalt Company because we have a lot of cobalt, which we want to process, “added Kwatampora.
He said Tibet Hima Comapny had also taken over 60 former employees of Kilembe Mines. Li Qianguo, the general manager of Tibet Hima Company, also said as per the concession signed by the Government, the company would support social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.
“We are going to work with every stakeholder to ensure that we change the lives of the people by creating employment and contributing to the society where we are working,” said Qianguo.
For acquiring the concession, Tibet Hima Comapny paid a signature fee amounting to $4.3m (about sh11b) to the Government. It will pay a concession fee of $1m (sh2.5b) annually. It is estimated that the mine still has 4.5 million tonnes of copper.
The Government will also benefit from statutory payments, including income tax and mining royalties.
The Tibet Hima Company Limited-led consortium emerged winner of an international open tender process to find an investor in Kilembe Mines Ltd.
The consortium is to commit over $135m towards the rehabilitation of the mine and upgrading Mobuku power plant to 12MW. Initially five companies which had sufficient technical and financial capacity were pre-qualified.
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Kilembe mines rehabilitation starts