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Illegal gold mining costs Uganda millions in lost revenue

Town of Kasese in western Uganda

With illegal gold mining rapidly spreading across the country, Uganda is losing millions in revenue.

A radical increase in production has taken place in recent years, reports New Vision.

In 1994, the country put out 225 kilograms of the yellow metal and, in 2000, it was up to 7 tonnes.

A majority of the gold is mined in the western district of Buhweju by small-scale miners from high-grade alluvial deposits, although gold can be found throughout the country.

As a result of Uganda’s central bank deregulating gold sales, local production has increased. Further, gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is being brought in to be sold.

The precious metal accounts for 30% of Uganda’s export revenue and, last year, made up $200 milion.

Illegal mining is having such an impact that experts say it must be stopped in order to shore up revenue collection.

A government official said the issue is so alarming that the country exported none of its own gold in April, while Kenya exported 40 kilograms of smuggled Ugandan gold.

In some parts of the country, New Vision reports more than 1,000 illegal gold miners have flooded in. Additionally, illegal buyers are coming in from other countries — like South Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi — to purchase gold and send it on to countries like the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai.

Some citizens have said police are not responding to calls for them to act on illegal activities.

Other reports indicate government officials are profiting from illegal operations through illicit tax collection.

Image: Karamell, via Wikimedia Commons