An assessment of the legal regime governing the mining industry in Uganda

The overall objective of this study was to assess the legal regime governing the mining industry in Uganda. The study was guided by the following three research questions: (i) How effective are the laws and policies regulating the mining industry in Uganda? (ii) What are the legal ramifications of the mining activities on the people and their environment and resources? (iii) What are the non-legal factors that affect the mining industry? The study utilized a socio-legal methodology combining two approaches: doctrinal analysis of treaties, laws, policies, and other legal materials; and qualitative interviews conducted with stakeholders in eight districts — Buhweju, Kasese, Kampala, Kisoro, Moroto, Pakwach, Tororo, and Wakiso.
Participants here included artisan miners, people from mining companies, people from mining communities and associations; and officers from district local governments, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, and Department of Geological Survey and Mines. The findings of the study show that international law on mining is generally silent on certain important issues such as mining, environmental protection, licensing, financial regulation, land acquisitions, etc. Similarly, soft law mechanisms such as Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Kimberly Process are not binding on Uganda.
The African Mining Vision (AMV) forms the normative basis for many countries’ mining visions, while the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and its policy tools are very crucial in regulation of the sector, combating illegal exploitation, conflicts, etc. On the domestic plane, there are a number of principal and allied laws and policies with direct bearing on the mining sector. While this would imply that the sector is highly regulated, the findings show that the principal legislation and policy not only suffer several lacunae but they are also obsolete. There is also marked institutional opacity. Field findings show, inter alia, that ASM is the most important sub sector intermediating family mining and corporate mining, but it is largely unregulated. Land is the major source of conflicts in the mining sector. The acrimonious grant of mining licenses and leases is a recipe for exploitation and conflict. The largely informal and ASM-driven mining sector lacks sound mining standards.
This leads to adverse environmental impacts particularly in relation to land, forest cover, wetlands and road infrastructure; health impacts largely through the use of dangerous chemicals; safety impacts relating to protective gear and protection of mine tunnels; and social impacts relating to displacement and social habits. The social impacts also include gender dimensions of women and children involvement in mining activities. A number of recommendations are made to address the challenges identified in the study. These include expediting the enactment of the draft mining bill into law and passing of the draft mining policy to deal with the various lacunae in the regulation of the sector. These drafts will do well to incorporate as much as possible the recommendations made in Chapter six of this dissertation. The government is also urged to as far as possible incorporate in domestic law the principles and values espoused in the African Mining Vision.