Uganda: Copper stockpiles left after mine closure compromising access to water; includes company comments

Author: Oil in Uganda, Published on: 15 September 2014

"Copper ‘waste’ poisoning Kasese river" 9 September 2014

Stockpiles of copper that were left behind after the closure of Kilembe mines...have been producing...a steady flow of contaminants that have been draining into nearby water bodies...The problem has intensified over the last two years, as River Nyamwamba regularly bursts its banks, dissolving bits of the heaps of stockpiles and washing it away.  Also, water from the deep underground tunnels has been oozing out of the mines, carrying with it dissolved minerals into the river.  Thousands of Kasese residents who do not have piped water depend on River Nyamwamba and hundreds others eke out a living as fishermen on Lake George, Nyamwamba’s final destination...Last year, Tibet Hima Company, a consortium of Chinese companies took over management and operation of the Kilembe mines in a multi-million dollar deal but it appears cleaning up the waste was not part of the agreement...Alex Kwatampora, Project Manager at Tibet Hima Company, told Oil in Uganda, the company  has already done an audit plan, adding that clean-up plans have been hampered by the regular flooding caused by the river. “When we took over this area, there was no policy in Kilembe of treating water that flows from the mines into the water bodies. We have carried out an environment audit and are planning to commission an environmental impact assessment study, as part of the bigger plan for protecting the environment.”

 

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