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Karamoja Marble Miners Petition EU Ambassadors on Modern Tools

Karamoja is one of the areas in Uganda with the largest mineral potential. The region has high deposits of limestone, gypsum, iron ore, wolfram, nickel, gold, copper, cobalt, lithium, gemstones, tin, marble and other rare earth elements.
European Union-EU Ambassadors meet artisanal marble miners at Rupa in Moroto district. Photo by Olive Nakatudde

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Artisanal marble miners in Rupa Sub-County, Moroto district have appealed to the European Union-EU delegation to Uganda for support towards value addition on their extractives. These say that they are exploited by middlemen and end up earning little from the marble in their area.

Karamoja is one of the areas in Uganda with the largest mineral potential. The region has high deposits of limestone, gypsum, iron ore, wolfram, nickel, gold, copper, cobalt, lithium, gemstones, tin, marble and other rare earth elements.

The European Union Head of Delegation Attilio Pacifici led nine Ambassadors under the bloc to visit the marble mines in Moroto over the last week to discuss the challenges and opportunities of minerals and human rights in Uganda.  During the visit, Mary Napeyok, a miner at Nanyidik mining site in Rupa Sub-County said that many of them are exploited by the middlemen who offer low prices due to the absence of modern equipment to extract the marble.

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To this, Ambassador Pacifici said that this condition is unsettling. He said that there is room for huge improvement and that the EU will continue supporting the Karamoja region as much as they can.

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Napeyok notes that the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a number of school-going children to resort to hitting stones at the mining site while others sell alcoholic drinks to the miners. However, Ambassador Pacifici said that it is not proper to have little children breaking stones in mines, saying that the only way out for these children is education.

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Nicolaj Hejberg Petersen, the Ambassador of Denmark says that the situation at the marble mines shows the huge developmental needs in Karamoja.

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Cabinet recently approved the Mining and Mineral Bill, 2020 that seek to reform and strengthen the legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks to cater for mineral traceability, certification, value addition, mineral revenue management and formalization of artisanal and small-scale miners.

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