Kampala, Uganda | AFRICATEMBELEA | The Minister of State for Energy and Minerals Sarah Opendi has asked the government to investigate the administration of Kilembe mines in Kasese district over allegations that mineral samples that were picked during exploration are missing.
During her visit to the mines on Saturday, Opendi realized that functional tanks and pipes were taken by TIBET, a company contracted to collect scrap from the area and manage the stores.
She noted that the stores which are supposed to keep samples picked during exploration are empty. The minister ordered the halting of scrap collection from the area until an investigation is done.
Fred Kyakonye, the Chief Executive Officer for Kilembe mines confirmed that mineral samples are missing. He said that the samples were collected and dumped by the company assigned to collect scrap.
Kyakonye however denied claims that some of the samples were still functional.
The LCV chairperson Kasese district Sibendire Bigogo says the absence of samples means that they have nothing to show prospective investors. He says the company has serious mismanagement issues that government must quickly address.
The LCIII chairperson Kilembe sub-county Modesto Kamate told the minister that they were surprised to see the company collect materials they thought were still useful.
The government in 2017 cancelled the concession of Tibet Hima Mining Company Ltd, a Chinese consortium that had won the contract to revamp the mines about four years earlier. The Chinese were supposed to extract at least 5 million tons of copper for 25 years.
A commission appointed by the State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite to look into the Chinese operations and recommended the cancellation of the contract saying the investor had caused financial loss to the government.
Before the termination of the concession, Tibet Hima had been routinely faulted for defaulting on key operational terms of the concession agreement.
The government also directed for immediate exploration of the ascertained mineral reserves and resources.
In May, leaders in Kasese called on the government to find a serious investor who can take over management of Kilembe mines saying that the current management can’t run their responsibilities.