By David Mugabe
The Privatisation Unit (PU) expects to announce the winning firm to take over the almost $1b valued Kilembe Copper Mines by late April.
Privatisation Unit spokesperson Jim Mugunga said over the weekend that the evaluation of the bids will immediately follow after due diligence is done.
“We are issuing the request for proposal and doing the due diligence concurrently in February and March,” said Mugunga, adding that by early May, the process should be complete.
A notice from PU, which is mandated to undertake divestiture of public enterprises, indicates that a formal opening of the responses to the “Request for Confirmation of Interest Notice” was conducted in December last year.
He dismissed reports that appeared in the local media that there is already a winner, describing it as a “concoction.”
Reports indicate that a Cabinet subcommittee on privatisation, the Divestiture Reform and Implementation Committee, has approved a list of five shortlisted bidders for Kilembe Mines and recommended them to proceed to the final stage of the divestiture process.
The firms are Sino-Steel (China), Tibet-Hima Group (China), Konkola Copper Mines PLC (Zambia), Shree Minerals (Australia) and Gingko Energy Investments Co. (China). Initially there were close to 40 firms interested in Kilembe.
The divestiture timetable also comes on the back of a court dismissal of a case by the commercial division of the High Court in which a Canadian group, Uganda Gold Mining Ltd, had sought to block the on-going sale of the mines.
Uganda Gold Mining had sought to take over the copper mines after it had abandoned it seven years ago and had also presented a claim of $15m (about sh40b) as out of court settlement to drop interest in mines.
Justice Christopher Madrama Izama, however, dismissed the case with costs.
Reviving the once vibrant copper mines has faced several hurdles in the last few years.
If the court decision is upheld and the divestiture process is complete without further delay, it will be a big boon for one of the most lucrative minerals today, whose price has rocketed thousands of times in the last 20 years.