The mine site has rich deposits of tantalite and more studies are being done in the area to discover more deposits.
MINERALS | BUSINESS
Companies mining tantalite have asked the government to begin certifying the mineral mined in Uganda to enable it get exports to Europe and America.
International regulations require that minerals classed as 3T and G minerals also called ‘conflict minerals' namely; tungsten, tin, tantalite and gold are certified as conflict free to ensure that proceeds from their sale are not used to fund conflicts and human rights violations.
Tantalite is used in making tantalum capacitors. It is also used in making electronic equipment such as mobile phones, DVD players and computers. The mineral is used in nuclear reactors, aircraft and space industry.
3T Mining Ltd is one company that has begun the process of certifying tantalite that is being mined in Namayumba sub-county, Wakiso district, which is rich in deposits of the mineral.
Vincent Kedi, the principal engineer for mining at the department of geological survey and mines, says Parliament had passed a bill, The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Bill which was waiting approval by President Yoweri Museveni. He said the bill provides the laws for certifying the conflict minerals.
Kedi said in the meantime, companies can pursue certification using international organisations that are certifying minerals.
"Without certification, mining companies will find it difficult to sell tin, tantalite, tungsten and gold at good prices. They can sell to middlemen who have access to international certification service providers," Kedi said.
Ikrom Muminov, the operations manager, 3T Mining, said the company had invited the UK-based Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi) to audit the company and issue the relevant certification. The iTSCi has a system that monitors minerals from the point of extraction at mine sites to smelters and to where minerals are processed for use.
Muminov said the company produces five tonnes of tantalite monthly. They are exported to China and plan to resume exports to Europe once the certification system is complete.
He said the company started tantalite exploration before 2012. The company has invested over $10m (sh36b) to date in the mining project. After completing the exploration, they were granted a mining lease for 21 years. The company employs about 50 people.
Fidel Kagame, executive director 3T Mining Ltd said Uganda stands to gain a lot from mining if the legal regime dealing with rules of origin are improved.
Kagame said the company was undertaking open cast mining with minimum impact on environment. He said the mine site has rich deposits of tantalite and more studies are being done in the area to discover more deposits.
"We have many employees from the community. It is cheaper, you save extra costs on housing when you employ people from the community. We also have a few skillful people from districts," Kagame said.
The iTSCi and the International Tin Research Institute (ITRI) implement internationally accepted and mineral traceability system for the 3T and G minerals.
In July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was voted by the American Congress and signed by the then president Barack Obama.
Section 1502 of the act requires companies to disclose whether any of the products manufactured or contracted to be manufactured by the company contains conflict minerals that originate in DR Congo or any of the 10 adjoining countries, including Uganda. It made it difficult to trade in minerals that were not certified to be ‘conflict-free'.