Government Wins Court Case to Resume Phosphate Mining

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Government has won a court case allowing it to begin the mining of phosphates in the Sukulu Hills in Tororo district. The outcome of the case means about 4,000 people living within 26 kilometers of the Sukulu Hills will be evicted as soon as possible. The Sukulu Hills are located in Osukuru Sub-County. They are home to a range of mineral deposits including limestone, vermiculite, phosphates, tantalite and iron ore. In 2004 government granted a lease for full-scale phosphate mining in the hills to a private company called NILEFOS Limited, which invested 535 million dollars in the project. Last year, the mining was halted when 558 people living in the Sukulu Hills obtained a court injunction against it. They said would cause irreparable harm, their children and their livestock. However in his ruling yesterday at Mbale High Court, Justice Ezekiel Muhaguzi said there was no basis for the injunction. He said anyone evicted could easily demand compensation from government. Additionally, Justice Muhaguzi said the injunction against the mining was filed against the Commissioner of Geological Mines and Surveys who was not party to the awarding of the Sukulu license to NILEFOS Limited. The residents, through their lawyers, Ekirapa and Company Advocates, have appealed the ruling. The area Member of Parliament, Geoffrey Ekanya, proposes that an alternative resolution to the dispute. He says that instead of forcibly recovering land in which the mineral deposits are located, government should offer residents an opportunity to voluntarily lease their land. On the other hand, the LC5 councilor of Osukuru, Peter Omuse, wants the Sukulu residents to leave the hills as soon as possible. He says they were duped into seeking the injunction by opposition politicians and asks that residents vacate the property and accept compensation for their troubles.


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