Mukumbya Musoke Advocates

Aspects Of Mining Rights In Uganda

By Julius M. Musoke

Is the property in minerals in Uganda vested in private citizens?
The Constitution and the Mining Act 2003, vest the entire property in and control of all minerals in, on and under any land or waters in Uganda in the Government of Uganda.

Is there a primary regulatory authority for the mining industry in Uganda?
The primary regulator for the mining sector is the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development’s Department of Geological Surveys and Mines.

Are there any requirements for local registration or incorporation by a company seeking to hold mining rights?
Pursuant to the Mining Act 2003, mining rights in Uganda have to be held by or through a company incorporated or registered in Uganda.

What mining licenses can a project company acquire in Uganda?
A Project Company in the mining sector would ordinarily expect to obtain any of the following licences: a Prospecting Licence; an Exploration Licence; a Retention Licence; a Mining Lease, a Location Licence’ a Mineral Dealer’s Licence or a Goldsmith Licence.

What rights do the said licences confer on a project company?

  • A Prospecting Licence provides for the non-exclusive right to carry on prospecting operations for any mineral.
  • An Exploration Licence provides for the exclusive right to carry on exploration operations in a specific area for a specific mineral.
  • A Retention Licence provides for the exclusive right to apply for a mining lease over a specific area.
  • A Mining Lease provides for the exclusive right to carry on exploration and mining operations in a specific mining area.
  • A Location Licence provides for rights relating to small scale prospecting and mining operations and is issued to Ugandans.
  • A Mineral Dealer’s Licence provides for the right to buy or sell minerals.

A Goldsmith Licence provides for rights for the manufacture of items from any precious metal.

What is the regulatory authority that grants these licenses?
The regulatory authority is the Government of Uganda, acting through the Geological Survey and Mines Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

Does the law provide for execution of Mining Agreements?
The Mining Act provides that the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development may require that a Mining Agreement is signed.

What is the validity period of various mining rights?

  • A prospecting licence is granted for the duration of one year;
  • Both the retention and exploration licences are granted for a period not exceeding three years, renewable before expiry, for two years;
  • The mining lease is granted for a period not exceeding twenty-one years or the estimated life of the ore body proposed to be mined, whichever is shorter; and
  • The location licence is granted for a renewable period not exceeding two years.

Are there any restrictions on transfer of mining rights?
Under the Mining Act 2003, a prospecting licence is not transferable while all the other licences are transferred with approval of the Commissioner for the Geological Survey and Mines Department.

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