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Lamwo Residents Demand Role In Local Mining Activities

Opira Godfrey Okeny, the Chairperson of Lokung Community Development Association says the residents know very little about the drilling and the environmental issues related to the exploration activities. He cited the management of drill wastes and mud cuttings as key concerns where the community should be involved.
Sipa Exploration Drlling a Site in Lokung Sub County in Lamwo District for Nickel Zinc Lead and Copper

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Residents of Lokung Sub County in Lamwo district are demanding for involvement in mineral exploration activities taking place in their area.

They say they are ignorant on the progress of the exercise undertaken two years ago by Sipa Exploration - an Australian firm searching for Nickel, Copper, Zinc and Lead deposits.

Opira Godfrey Okeny, the Chairperson of Lokung Community Development Association says the residents know very little about the drilling and the environmental issues related to the exploration activities.  He cited the management of drill wastes and mud cuttings as key concerns where the community should be involved.

Okeny demands that the Australian firm also declares the minerals discovered, their commercial uses and the value to communities hosting the deposits in order to avoid suspicion on the discoveries.

Sixty-year old Alfred Okwor, a resident of Olik Olony Village in Pangira Parish told Uganda Radio Network that the Company is dealing more with district leaders that they suspect have been compromised. He wants the company to regularly organize meetings with communities to explain their activities.

Bill Willmott, Sipa Exploration Country Director says they are working more with village, Sub County and district leaders in areas they are exploring for minerals in Lamwo district.

He says they have collected more than 55,000 rock and soil samples for extensive testing and analysis in Laboratories in Canada, South Africa and Australia from exploration areas extending from South Sudan border to Agago district over the last two years.

Willmott says the company that has spent close to USD 8 Million on exploration activities, is far from finding large commercial deposits of the minerals, whose traces have been seen in areas of Akelikongo and Pamwa in Lokung and Palabek Kal Sub Counties.

//Cue in “We are nowhere near………

Cue out “……...showing something”//

Willmott Uganda needs large deposits of Nickel to make significant revenues. He explains that every 1,000 kilograms of Nickel currently sells for USD 12,000, the cost of 28 Grams of gold on the World Market.

//cue in “The main use of Nickel……….

Cue out “…….might be some dollars”//

Rowan Dignam, the Senior Project Geologist of Sipa Exploration Uganda Limited says they have restored all the areas they drilled for samples in line with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) guidelines.

He says they have not yet encountered any hazardous mud cuttings or drill wastes as feared by communities.

Lamwo District Chairperson Ochen Mathew Akiya says his office is working very closely with Sipa Exploration to ensure that communities are not cheated. He urged communities to remain calm as the company continues exploring for commercial deposits of the minerals.