Artisanal Miners Lose Money To Low Value Addition

2656 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Many of the miners in the capital intensive industry say they lack capacity to add value to the minerals they excavate. As a result, they often sell the stones at relatively cheaper prices than a processed material would fetch.

Artisanal miners have cried out to government to help them add value to their yields in order to attract better prices.
 
Many of the miners in the capital intensive industry say they lack capacity to add value to the minerals they excavate. As a result, they often sell the stones at relatively cheaper prices than a processed material would fetch.
 
At the Nsango B gold mines in Namayingo district, a combination of crude tools and mining methods means the artisanal miners can only extract very little quantity of the mineral than they could have if they had better tools and knowledge on how to explore.
 
Emma Sekuk, a gold miner in the area explains that their current underdeveloped methods of extracting the gold cause them to lose a lot of resources such as money and time. He  explained that at the end of a day’s work of extracting and processing, one may gather as much as a point of gold, which is as big as a grain of millet, fetching about 10,000 Uganda shillings. Sekuk however says that they are planning to form an association to help them lobby and mobilize resources to try and boost their capacity in the extracting and processing of the mineral for better pay.
 
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The situation in no different across the border in Tanzania. At the Mererani mines in Simanjiro region, where excavation for Tanzanite is going on, the small scale miners rely on some of the most low scale tools to reach to and dig out the mineral. Although a little more organized than Uganda, the miners here too cannot add value to their yields.
 
Aisha Juma Kirongoziba, one of the women who deal in Tanzanite, is appealing to government to establish a plant to help them process the stones further in order to fetch better prices. She explains that often, they sell the raw minerals to Chinese who transport them to China only to return with processed jewelry pieces, which are sold to the local dealers at increased prices.  She explained that they sell a kilo of unprocessed Tanzanite at 2,000 Tanzania shillings but in turn buy the processed jewelries at 50,000 Tanzanian shillings each.
 
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Away from the artisanal miners who have limited capacity, Tanzania has TanzaniteOne, a company that mines and processes tanzanite stones on a large scale. While in Uganda, almost all minerals, except building materials, are exported in raw form without value added owing to inadequate capacity.
 
Peter Lokeris, Uganda State minister for Minerals says that plans are underway to license the artisanal miners as a first step to help organize them to build their capacity. The 2000 national policy on mining requires that government should help the small scale miners in their operations.
 
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