Last week Uganda announced that recent exploration surveys have revealed that it has a gold ore deposit of approximately 31 million tonnes.
President Museveni broke news of the find in his State-of-the-Nation Address saying the gold would make the country more than $12 trillion.
Over the last two years, aerial exploration was done across the country followed by geophysical and geochemical surveys and analyses, Solomon Muyita, spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, told Reuters.
According to Muyita, the 31 million tonnes is estimated to be about 320,000 tonnes of extractable refined gold.
Most of the deposits were discovered in Karamoja, a sprawling area in the country’s northeastern corner on the border of Kenya. Large reserves were also found in eastern, central, and western areas of the East African country.
Muyita said a Chinese-run firm named Wagagai has invested $200 million. The company has set up a mine in eastern Uganda and expects to start refining at least 5,000 kilogrammes of gold per day before the end of this year. Wagagai had invested $200 million, he said, and its mine will have a refining unit.
Earlier this year, Parliament enacted a new mining law that, once signed by the president, will pave the way for the creation of a state mining company.
The state run company will receive 15% of every mining operation and investors will be required to sign a production-sharing agreement with the government.
Uganda’s gold exports have been on the rise since opening the Africa Gold Refinery in Entebbe, according to official records.
In 2019 and 2020, the country exported gold worth $1.9b to the United Arab Emirates, $1.4b to South Korea, and $28.7m to Hong Kong.
It remains unclear what the immediate and long-term impact of the huge gold discovery will be on the economy of Uganda however, if the estimates are accurate, it would suggest that the gold find would topple the estimated billions of dollars expected from oil still in the ground in the Albertine region. The country is expected to start extracting that oil in 2025.