AFP – The inauguration of Uganda’s first gold refinery sparked concern Wednesday over the possibility of dirty minerals from regional conflict zones making their way into the country.
Transparency International’s Peter Wandera told AFP the country’s failure to regulate the mineral sector meant there were “high chances” the refinery could contribute to conflicts, such as that in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where rebels are propped up by illegal mining.
“Uganda has continuously failed to implement the necessary components … to reduce the trade in conflict minerals from the DRC,” he said.
The Belgian-owned African Gold Refinery (AGR) has been operating in central Entebbe since 2014 but was inaugurated Monday by President Yoweri Museveni. Government has hailed it as “the first high-capacity gold refinery in sub-Saharan Africa.”
It currently processes 250 kg of gold a week. While gold is Uganda’s second export after coffee — worth $204 millions (193 million euro) in 2016 — it produces a lot less of the mineral than leaves the country.
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