Closure of Ugandan Virmiculite Mine Leaves Hundreds Jobless

August 30, 2013 2:48 pm2 comments by:
haswa

We are just waiting for an opportunity, to reclaim our land since the factory has failed, and there’s no work going on” remarks 23 year-old Fred Waslika, whose ancestral land, was leased to, a vermiculite mine in Manafwa, eastern Uganda.

The Namekara mine, located some 230 kilometers, east of the capital Kampala, is owned by the Australian based Gulf Resources.

The Company acquired the mine, from Rio-Tinto International, in May 2009 and has since cut off production. It announced last year, that it was to cut production, from 22,000tpa to 18,000tpa due to falling European demand.

According to the company, it made the cut after advice from leading UK-based vermiculite distributor, Dupre Minerals Limited, which buys all Namekara offtake,

Dupri urged Gulf Resources to cut off production, due to the economic conditions, in Europe which indicated purchases at 20% less than Gulf’s budgeted production.

However the factory has been completely, out of production, since last September, leaving hundreds of miners jobless.

At the factory in Namekara village, only a few workers could be seen doing manual work like slashing and cleaning the compound.

The Continent Observer Correspondent, who visited the mine, on Thursday this week reports that the mine appeared deserted, with earth moving equipments, lying idle in the compound.

He reports that the few workers, who included security guards, could be seen around, while the restaurants, which once graced, the place have closed down.

Livelihood Lost

“This factory, when it started operating, in the late 90’s offered jobs to very many people, but it kept on declining, and as we speak now, they have laid off most of the workers and left very few to maintain the compound” 23 year-old Fred Waslika who is among those who were laid off explains.

Waslika whose father, is among those who leased the land to the mine says they are now, waiting for an opportunity, to reclaim back their land since the factory has gone into limbo.

“In case the factory completely dies (sic), we shall take back our land, because the purpose of which we surrendered, it for has since changed, and besides those people never fulfilled the promise, they gave to our parents” Waslika says that Canmine, the company that leased the land from them had promised to construct roads, provide safe drinking water and connect electricity to the area.

“We have only benefited from a road, after we rioted, and forced them to compensate us by constructing for us a road, as a compromise, for them to create a passage, to the mine through our gardens” Waslika says a part from the road the other benefits the residents got are two nursery schools which were constructed by the former owners Rio-Tinto International.

For 60-year-old Biira Nambozo the mine offered her a lifeline but now it’s no more.

“When I started operating, a restaurant here in 1999, I used to make a lot of profit because there were more than 670 people, who used to come for lunch, here in a day, but today, the factory has closed and I only get less than 20 customers” Nambozo says they used to be 20 women, who operated restaurants in the area but today she’s the only one left.

She says others left a year ago after the workers off.

Nambozo explains she would have loved to do something, else but lack of capital has forced her to remain, to operate a restaurant, in the area and currently her customers are only security guards and cleanerHenson Mambo, the Operations Manager declined to comment. He first told the Continent Observer, to contact their lawyer who is based in Kampala for a comment and then later turned around saying they were not ready, to give any comment.

But Gulf Industries Limited, last year said it was suspending production until stock levels reduced to a manageable level.

It stated then that Dupre Mineral Limited, the UK-based vermiculite distributor and the exclusive distributor was to continue buying its products.

 

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2 Comments

  • Jörg Dollinger

    Good Day Mr. Elunya,

    Last week I have read your Report regarding the Namekara Mine with great interest.I would like to know if the Mine is in Operation by now, but could never get any Information about it.The reason for my interest is that I see that your article was written on the 30. Aug. 2013, which is the time I was retrenched by Gulf Resources from Namekara Mine by the end of August 2013. I was the latest Geologist working there at this time and I still have a scientific interest of the handling and progress regarding this ore Body and the commodity itself. I would be grateful if you could give me the latest Information about the mining activities of this resource.

    Kind Regards

    J. Dollinger

    • Joseph Elunya- Uganda Bureau Chief

      Hello the mine is still not operational. Passed around it some time last week and only the skelleton staff is in place

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