Uganda to invite companies to redevelop former copper mine

The abandoned Kilembe copper-cobalt mine in western Uganda. (Image: Wikimedia Commons.)

Uganda is attempting to reopen an idled mine estimated to contain 4 million tonnes of ore by inviting international firms to present bids for a production sharing deal.

Once a major copper and cobalt producer, the Kilembe copper mine was abandoned by Canadian firm Falconbridge in the 1970s, as the East African nation’s economy deteriorated under the leadership of dictator Idi Amin Dada.

This is not the first time the Uganda has tried to revive the mine, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Previous efforts, however, were thwarted by a commodities downturn and a failed 2013 deal with a group led by China’s Tibet Hima Mining, which had vowed to invest $175 million in the asset.

The government cancelled the 25-year concession in 2013 on grounds that Tibet Hima had failed to execute its mandate as outlined in the permit. The Chinese firm sued the government and is seeking compensation of at least $33 million in damages.

The country decided to retry bringing Kilembe back to life in April this year. At the time, authorities said 28 companies had expressed interest in the project.

With files from Bloomberg

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