'Village Geologists' Take Over Gold Exploration in Eastern Uganda

5821 Views Bugiri, Uganda

In short
The local residents of Namayingo and Bugiri districts in Eastern Uganda have discovered rare exploration ingenuity to cope with the shortage of mineral and geological data created by government. Hussein can ‘see and smell’ gold where others can’t.

The local residents of Namayingo and Bugiri districts in Eastern Uganda have discovered rare exploration ingenuity to cope with the shortage of mineral and geological data created by government. 

Uganda’s mineral policy agenda requires government to carry out geological, geochemical and geophysical surveys of the entire country and disseminate the information to potential users through the media, a task government is yet to accomplish. 

As a result, a few members of the public have over the years developed exceptional skills, which would only be expected among graduate geologists.  

Hussein Maganda is among such people whose knowledge on gold exploration has become a valuable resource to the local community in Namayingo district whose livelihood draws from the mining activities. Hussein, a senior 3 class drop-out told Uganda Radio Network (URN) that he often spent time examining the soil formation in pits dug for latrines and other purposes in his neighbourhood.

From the studies, Hussein said he discovered that gold-rich soil has a specific formation. As a result, he says he is experienced enough to tell the kind of soil formation in a gold-rich area. He explained that he could also differentiate the sound, which a mattock makes while digging through soil containing gold. Hussein adds that it is also possible to light a torch or match stick in a pit and be able to tell whether or not the soil in the area contains gold. Summarily, Hussein can ‘see and smell’ gold where others can’t.

Expanses of pits dug to a depth of over ten metres with heaps of soil on the ground surface and a beehive of activity as men and women scrutinize the soils is the evidence of the expertise of the ‘local geologists’ and are indeed a main characteristic of the gold mines in the area.

Hussein however, decries the absence of support from government to artisanal miners such as himself and those in his community. He says that the lack of government intervention has forced them to solely rely on crude methods to extract the mineral. He however says that soon they hope to form a local association to champion their interests.

Hussein’s concerns are shared by the area local authorities who also feel betrayed by the government. Tito Okware is the LC3 chairman of Buyinja sub county, Namayingo district where the gold mines are located. He says that government should quickly move in to help build the capacity of the local miners. He explains that since mining begun in the area three years ago, they have not heard from the central government.

Okware explains that the current mining activities in his area are a result of the exploration conducted by the local residents without any involvement of government.
 
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The mining policy formulated in 2000 requires government to regularize and improve artisanal and small scale mining.