Artisanal miners who were in 2017 evicted from gold mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub-counties in the then Mubende District, have secured a new mining area.

The miners say, the available geological data shows that the new mining area is endowed with enough gold to sustain their economic interests.

The miners under Mubende United Miners Assembly (Muma), have so far secure three mining leases from the government which will enable them operate as an organised and legal entity.

Muma brings together 21 mining associations that are engaged in gold mining and related businesses.

The new mining area is in Kyabikoola Village in Bukuya, in the new Kassanda District.

On August 4, 2017, the police and the army evicted an estimated 25,000 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.

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.

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.

Mr Emmanuel Simwogerere, who is in charge of discipline, said they have applied for seven mining licences and they are negotiating with landlords to ensure that no conflict over land and mineral rights crops up in future.

“We, however need government assistance to develop this new site. We intend to have a gold processing centre outside the mining camp to minimise mercury contamination,” he said.

Mercury is one of the chemicals that is used by miners to separate gold from other metals like iron ore.

Environmentalists, however, say it has diverse health impact on animals and human beings especially when it ends up in water sources.

Mr Simwogerere disputed allegations that the mines in Lujinji and Lugongwa, Kaluwolera where they were evicted were full of undocumented illegal immigrants which was a security threat.

“There was police presence in the mines and local council officials. And on top of that people who come to Uganda pass via gazetted border crossing points that are managed by immigration officials,” he said.

He said the evicted miners are law abiding citizens who lost their economic rights making them fail to fend for their families.

“Most of them cannot send their children to school and we hope once the new mining area starts operating, their lives will be restored,” he said.

After their eviction, the miners under Muma, with the help of Action Aid Uganda, formed a social movement that mainly used social media platforms, to demand their economic rights.