Most of Ugandaâ€™s minerals are sold on the black-market leading to a decline in foreign earnings, MPs have learnt.
The finance ministry says the earnings declined from about sh257b in 2006 to sh107b in 2008 a difference of sh150b.
In a document presented to the parliamentary committee on minerals, the ministry does not state the cause of the decline. However, the MPs blamed it on illegal minerals trade.
Touring mineral-rich areas of Uganda, the MPs discovered that many minerals are sold illegally to neighbouring countries which export them.
â€œIllegal miners use rudimentary means to mine gold and sell it to dealers, who brand it in their countries and export it,â€ committee chairman Emmanuel Dombo said.
â€œThis is happening because the Government has no regulations against illegal sale of minerals and has also not attracted investors to develop the sector,â€ he added.
State minister for mineral development Peter Lokeris, referring to the copper and fertilisers mining in Kilembe and Tororo respectively, said the 2006 mineral boom had ended, leading to the collapse of most mines.
He, however, admitted that due to lack of investors, most of the minerals were being smuggled to other countries.
â€œThe mining sector is just being revamped. We need an investor to control such markets,â€ he argued.
In order to revive the sector, he said, the Government had set up a department of mineral development.
The officials were appearing before the committee to defend an additional loan request of sh10b for the mineral resource project.
Previously, Parliament had approved sh84b for the project but refused to grant more money until the committee was satisfied with the expenditure. Although a few tasks had been completed, about sh2b is still on the account.
Mineral exports fall by sh150b