Artisanal Small Scale Miners in Tiira Town Council, Busia district are struggling to pay and renew mining licenses with the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines.
The Directorate introduced the Mining Cadastre Portal to ease the processes of registration, application and renewal of licenses among others from Entebbe.
But the Mining Associations in Tiira say the cadastre has neither eased their troubles nor reduced the time for accessing services from the directorate.
Paul Angesu, the Chairperson of Tiira Landlords and Artisanal Miners Association says they spent almost 100 Million Shillings to get a location license from the directorate. He explained that the license which ordinarily costs 2.5 million shillings became higher when the officials took time to serve them.
According to Angesu, even paying for royalties at Entebbe costs them more money as officials at the directorate allegedly demand kickbacks to attend to the miners.
There are four mining associations at Tiira which are registered in different groups and run full-time business in gold mines after acquiring Mining Licenses from the directorate.
The gold mining associations run generators that pump water to extract gold. On average, Tiira Gold Mine Associations produces up to three kilograms of gold in a year. But this comes with both financial and policy challenges.
Josephine Aguttu, the Secretary Tiira Small Scale Miners’ Association says the online registration is another way of extorting money from the miners. She explains that after applying for the renewal of the license, it took them more than one year to get the license, which she notes came with costs.
Stephen Engidoh Paade, the Secretary of Busia United says that whereas miners are struggling to improve the standards of living in households, the government has abandoned them. He notes that most of the interventions by the government are only meant to send local miners out of business in preference for foreign investors.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, the number of licenses for mining has reduced from more than 1,000 to 700 after the introduction of the mining cadastre portal.