Relying on information on Uganda’s mining cadastre, the report states that the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) has granted several mining exploration licenses in protected areas
A new report by Global Witness, an international NGO, has raised a red flag over mining licenses inside and near the protected areas, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage sites.
Relying on information on Uganda's mining cadastre, the report states that the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) has granted several mining exploration licenses in protected areas.
"DGSM has granted mining exploration licences in all but three of Uganda's protected areas, of which there are 28, putting some of the planet's rarest and most endangered species at risk," the report which was launched online on Monday, says.
Global Witness, which has offices in London and Washington D.C, says an MP has a license for mineral exploration in Bwindi National Park which is home to almost half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas.
"This includes the world-renowned Bwindi and Rwenzori UNESCO world heritage sites, which form part of the greater Virunga landscape and are protected by international convention. Pressure on these areas is mounting and in some instances mining activity has allegedly already taken place," the report adds.
In another case, the report cites a company operating just outside a UNESCO world heritage site without conducting the environmental impact assessment study to establish the possible impact of its operations on the environment.
"It is Uganda's poorest people and its delicate environment that stand to lose the most from corruption and mismanagement in the mining sector," the reports notes.
Mining in the protected areas, according to the report, is incompatible with UNESCO convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage which Uganda ratified.
"It also poses a grave threat to the country's most iconic species including endangered mountain gorillas, and to the emerging tourist industry, which relies on Uganda's reputation as a wildlife hotspot," the report reads, "
The DGSM director, Edwards Katto says he responded to Global Witness claims in greater detail in an 11 page document, and that he hoped they understood his response.
"I do not think I have more to add. I told them there was nothing illegal and I quoted them the Mining Act and procedures. But, of course, you cannot stop someone from talking what they want. I spent sleepless nights writing a detailed response," he stated. Ends