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Pozzolana Mining brings Mixed Blessings to Kabarole :: Uganda Radionetwork

Pozzolana Mining brings Mixed Blessings to Kabarole

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The mining of pozzolana is reportedly boosting the economy of Kichwamba Sub-County in Kabarole district.
Pozzolana is a fine, sandy volcanic ash, which can form compounds possessing cement-like properties. It can be used for making concrete structures or combined with other elements to fortify cement. In Ugandan pozzolanic deposits occur in the mountainous Rwenzori region and in Kisoro district.
Miners in Kichwamba sub-county are making huge profits selling the pozzolana to Hima Cement Factory. Hima in turn uses it to manufacture Portland cement.
Moses Abigaba says he has been mining pozzolana for the past three years. He sells 20 tonnes of pozzolana rock everyday to Hima Cement at 250,000 shillings. His colleague, Samuel Tinkasimire, says he supplies 40 tonnes of pozzolana and with the profits he has built himself a house and paid for his children's school fees.
Several miners in Kichwamba sell the material directly to construction companies and builders in and around Kabarole district.
The success of the pozzolana miner has attracted thousands of men to Kabarole to engage in the trade. An association of 200 miners has been formed to support individual businesses. The association members have saved more than 50 million shillings, ploughing it into other income generating activities through Kichwamba Microfinance Institute.
Not everyone is applauding the success of the pozzolana mines.
James Rwakijuma, chairperson of Kichwamba Pozzolana Miners Association, says the miners are being exploited by Hima Cement Factory. He says the profits reaped from the manufacture of cement far outweigh the price paid for pozzolana.
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Pozzolana miners are also under the threat of death because of the conditions of the mines.
Angela Katusiime, the environmental officer in charge of Kichwamba, says ditches where the rocks are excavated are breeding places for mosquitoes. She says miners have little or no equipment to protect them from falling rocks or inhalation of the dust.

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