On August 4, 2017, the police and the army evicted an estimated 70,000 artisanal gold miners from mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub-counties, in then Mubende District, now Kassanda District.

The eviction shattered the livelihood of hundreds of miners and other business people who were providing various services in the informal mining area.

Since then, the miners vowed that never again should such an eviction happen.

They blamed it mainly on their lack of organisation because by the time they were shown the exit, they were operating as individual business and success was for the fittest.

The eviction followed a protracted conflict between the artisanal miners and AUC as well as Gemstone International, which companies have gold exploration licences in the area.

The icing on the cake was the argument by security forces that claimed that the mining area was a threat to the security of the country since hundreds of undocumented foreigners were moving to the mining areas.

On Friday, members of the Uganda Association of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners from Karamoja, Mubende, Namayingo, Buhweju and Busia held a meeting in Kampala to pave ways of regulating their industry.

The chairman of the association Mr John Bosco Bukya said they are working with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry to ensure that all artisanal and small scale miners are registered in a biometric system.

“As a united force that is regulated with registered members, issues like applying for all kinds of mining licences will become easy and it will be hard for saboteurs to disrupt our operations,” Mr Bukya said.

He said that once organised, they will be able to fight challenges like environmental degradation.  

The commandant of the Minerals Police, Ms Jescah Keigomba said her unit is soon becoming fully operational adding that the regulation of the industry is long overdue which created loopholes that allowed unscrupulous foreigners and local players to join it.

During the meeting that was organised by Action Aid Uganda, Mr Didas Muhumuza, the organisation’s extractives governance coordinator, said the regulatory challenges affecting the mining sector have to be discussed and fixed since the natural resources have to be exploited sustainably to benefit everyone.

He said such effort feeds into the a policy and regulatory framework to be part of the African Mining Vision (AMV).

AMV is a policy framework that was created by the African Union in 2009 to ensure that Africa utilizes its mineral resources strategically for broad-based, inclusive development.

A successful implementation of the Vision, Mr Muhumuza said hinges on participation by the private sector and other key regional and country stakeholders in Africa.

He said that the challenges presented by a poorly organized and managed mining sub-sector, artisanal and small scale miners have greatly been disenfranchised thereby not being able to get good benefits from the exploitation of natural resources in Uganda.

"This is even worse with women and young people who face very tough repercussions since they have remained vulnerable thus being negatively affected by the disenfranchisement. The need for

improvement in the sector governance and management is vital, he said.

The miners agreed at the Fairway Hotel meeting o tour all mining areas by June 2019 to document all actors and the various mining activities they are carrying out.