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Preliminary Exploration Reveals Shocking Gold Deposit In Uganda Worth Over 12 Trillion USD

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Uganda announced on Tuesday 7 June 2022 that it has concluded preliminary exploration surveys on a potential gold minefield. Findings of that survey indicate that Uganda has 31 million tonnes of gold ore deposits. When refined, this can yield 320,158 tonnes of pure gold. This gold deposit is valued at over 12 trillion USD.

While making the announcement on state television, President Yoweri Museveni gave sketchy details. However, the president highlighted that it can fetch the country $12 trillion. The Ugandan government hopes to attract investors that will help develop the mining sector currently monopolized by wildcat miners.

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In the past 2 years, the government has undertaken aerial exploration across the nation. Consequently, this was followed by geochemical and geophysical surveys, according to Solomon Muyita, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development spokesperson.

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The majority of the gold deposits were around Karamoja, a northeastern area close to the Kenyan border. Ample reserves were also found in the western, central, and eastern parts of the country. If the data is accurate, it will make Uganda one of the richest countries in the world by gold deposits.

Gold processing in Africa

In the past, gold ores are shipped out of the continent for refining. Foreign gold refineries buy these gold ores for a marginal fee and sell them at a premium after refining. In other words, African countries were unable to enjoy the full dividends of their gold deposits.

President Museveni believes that era is gone, citing the growing number of gold refineries around the continent including 6 local refineries in the country. One of the most reputable was the Africa Gold Refinery in Entebbe. However, in March, the United States sanctioned this gold refinery for sourcing its gold ores illicitly.

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Plans for Uganda’s gold deposit

Wagagai, a Chinese firm that models its name from Mt Elgon’s highest peak is overseeing mining in one of the gold sites. The company estimates that before the end of the year, they will start refining a minimum of 5,000 kilograms of gold per day in Busia.

Tan Chun Chi, Wagagai’s general manager says the company’s investment in the sector is over $60 million. He blames the lag in mining on the lack of two licenses. The company secured a gold production license in March 2022 and has a 21-year lease agreement to mine the gold deposit in the country.

The Busia district already has over 2,000 artisanal miners using rudimentary extraction means. Some of their actions are leading to health hazards forcing frequent clashes with personnel of law enforcement agencies.

It is yet unclear the number of jobs the gold deposit will create. Also not clear are the immediate and long-term plans for the gold deposits. The country also hopes to rev up its foreign earnings by 2025 when oil extraction begins.

Uganda is currently one of the largest exporters of gold on the continent. The country’s gold export took a leap after the opening of Entebbe’s Africa Gold Refinery. For example, the country’s gold export between 2019 and 2020 to Europe and Asia is worth over $3 billion. This includes $28.7 million to Hong Kong, $1.4 billion to South Korea, and $1.9 billion to the United Arab Emirates.

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Real gold or another conspiracy? Reactions!

While President Museveni is working hard to ramp up investment in mining, the trust of the general populace has dwindled. Those that think the gold deposit may be real are already thinking of ways to maximize the opportunity. For example, Mineral Development Expert, Winnie Ngabirwe said,

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“If the data of Uganda’s gold deposit is real, we need to prepare ourselves to do business, develop ourselves and our nation, and move to a middle-income economy and beyond”.

Others are not so optimistic about the news. Rather, they seem to think that it is all a conspiracy by the president and his supporters.

The third group is rather cautious. While this group doesn’t doubt the existence of gold, they believe the country doesn’t have the refining capability. Thus, the bulk of the earnings will go back to the West.

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Another group simply wants to know how the discovery will affect Uganda’s relationship with the rest of the world, especially Russia.

The more mischievous group yet are those that believe there may be an invasion of Uganda by Western powers. This view seems to be the most dominant at the moment. Consequently, it shows the level of distrust most Africans have for the West.

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Which part of the argument do you belong to? Do you think Uganda has that much gold deposit or is this another hoax by President Museveni to hold on to power? Use the comment option below to share your views.

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