Large Phosphate Deposits Discovered in Tororo

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New phosphate deposits amounting to more than 300 tonnes have been discovered in the Sukulu Hills in Tororo. John Gongo, the district officer of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), discloses that a feasibility study concluded recently by Madhvani International indicates that the phosphate deposits occur in 26 square kilometers in Osukuru sub-county. He says part of the deposits lie on land belonging to the Government-owned Uganda Development Corporation. Gongo says Madhvani has been asked to collect data on areas with concentrated quantities of phosphates over the next three months to determine the exact mining areas. He explains that not all areas with phosphate deposits will be excavated. NEMA has not yet conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment of the planned phosphate mining in the Sukulu Hills. In a circular copied to the Tororo local government administration, Madhvani said investment in mining in the area would create direct employment for 500 locals. About 3000 others would benefit from the investment indirectly through the transport and trade industries. Residents of Osukuru and Rubongi sub-counties will be relocated and compensated when the mining starts. Despite this promise, some residents are skeptical about the move. During a consultative meeting between the residents, local council leaders and district staff, a committee was established to negotiate the terms of compensation with Madhvani in order to ensure that everyone benefits from the development. The committee is chaired by the Osukuru sub-county chief, David Okurut and has representatives from the 13 affected villages in Tororo. Phosphates are a major raw material for the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers used in agriculture. Deposits in Uganda are associated with the carbonatite ring complexes found in eastern Uganda mainly at Sukulu and Bukusu. Tororo Industrial Chemicals and Fertilizers which was established in 1963 produced 25,000 tonnes per annum of single super phosphate until operations ceased in 1978.The phosphates at Busuku were mined from 1945 to 1963, and exported in semi-processed form to Kenya, where they were mixed with soda ash to produce a soluble fertilizer. Production stopped when TICAF started operations in Tororo. A Canadian company Canmin Resources has been licensed to operate in the area.