Discovered in 2016, the rare earth elements are essential for the manufacture of medical equipment, smartphones, laptops, crude oil processing, batteries for electric vehicles, and wind turbines. Code named ‘The Makuutu Rare Earths Project’, the project derives its name from Makuutu Sub-County in Bugweri District where the mineral was discovered.
The communities in Busoga region who are going to be affected by the mining
and production of Rare Earth Metals – REM have asked the Government to exercise transparency while compensating them for their land.
This follows the confirmation of 532 million tonnes of viable deposits of Rare Earth
Elements–REE also known as the largest Ionic Adsorption Clay
– IAC, stretching 40 kilometers across Igombe Sub County in Bugweri, Bulamogi, and Nakigo in Iganga, Imanyiro, and Buwaaya in Mayuge Districts.
Discovered in 2016, the rare earth elements are essential for the manufacture of medical
equipment, smartphones, laptops, crude oil processing, batteries for electric
vehicles, and wind turbines. Code named ‘The Makuutu Rare Earths Project’, the project derives its
name from Makuutu Sub-County in Bugweri District where the mineral was discovered.
The mineral deposit ranks among the largest known ionic adsorption
clay outside of China. Warren Tregurtha, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwenzori Rare Metals –
RRM, a private company licensed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral
Development to carry out the mineral prospecting and exploration revealed
that the actual mining will begin in 2024.
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However, tempers are flaring on the ground with landowners crying foul following the involvement of dubious individuals brokering land deals in anticipation of high returns from the Government compensations.
Jane Nalongo, 30, a resident of Buwaaya parish in Mayuge District told
URN that she and her other six siblings are being forcefully evicted by the
Sub-County Chief backed by some security operatives following the illegal survey of their land by Rwenzori Rare Metals - RRM.
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Through their area MP, Abdu Katuntu, the aggrieved residents, who include
cultural and religious leaders sought an audience with Ruth Nankabirwa, the
Minister of Energy and Mineral Development to seek clarity about the land
Jamada Kasisa, the Local Council One Chairperson
of Makuutu village in Bugweri Sub-County, says the brokers, mainly Government
officials are on a rampage coercing residents to sell their land arguing that
the Government will take it without compensating them.
On Monday, Nankabirwa visited the area to interact with the
Project Affected Persons – PAPs and assured them that the Government is undertaking due diligence to ensure the residents are
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The Minister disclosed that her Ministry is yet to engage Government valuers
to evaluate the land occupied by the affected households
before they are duly compensated to allow for the extraction of the minerals to commence.
Based on the provisions of the Mining Act 2003 and Mining Regulations
2019, Rwenzori Rare Metals is required to apply and acquire a
mining lease through the Energy Ministry before it
can compensate/resettle affected landowners.
In order to obtain the Mining lease, the company must undertake a feasibility
study, conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), obtain
consent from landowners to access the project land, and develop a Resettlement
Action Plan (RAP) that will be used to mitigate the probable resettlement
impacts to the project affected persons.
The objective of the RAP is to provide resettlement options that
suitably allow them to continue their livelihood and activities. The options
include outright acquisition involving outright cash compensation for a
mutually acceptable amount.
Temporary resettlement will allow land owners to lease land to
the Makuutu Project for an agreed period of time, compensate the
landowner for lost assets, and affected households will be provided
with a good house in a newly established nearby resettlement village.
The third option involves permanent resettlement; swap land for land,
permanent replacement house and suitable replacement land, cash
compensation for lost assets and provision of the necessary support to assume a
better social-economic standard than before.
Lastly, an option of paying a retainer fee that involves a periodic sum of
money that will be paid to PAPs whose land is affected but who have not yet
signed the compensation agreement. This is to allow PAPs a regular income as
they wait to be resettled.
Ochola's journalism career begun from Radio King 90.2 FM in Gulu around 2009, and Radio Rupiny 95.7 Fm under Vision Group in 2012. He also reported for Mighty Fire 91.5 Fm, Kitgum in 2015 before joining Wizarts Foundation in 2017.
He has been reporting for Uganda Radio Network (URN) since 2017 before being posted as Bureau Chief Kitgum, and latr Gulu between 2018 - 2021. Currently, he reports from Parliament.