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Museveni commissions tin factory, discourages exportation of raw minerals

MBARARA, April 13, 2024 – President Yoweri Museveni has commissioned Uganda’s first tin refining plant in Ruti Cell, Mbarara City South Division.

Unveiling the tin smelting plant yesterday, Museveni said he has been battling the exportation of raw minerals from Uganda and will continue to do so.

Museveni explained that African countries since independence have been exporting raw materials to their disadvantage because raw exports fetch little money.

He said the establishment of Woodcross Resources in Mbarara City to value to tin rocks from Isingiro, and Ntungamo districts, respectively, is a manifestation of his war against export of raw materials out of the country.

He regreted that for a long time, cassiterite has been exported from Uganda. “When it comes to minerals this is real betrayal, you can imagine the cassiterite, a rock which has got 65 percent purity of tin being exported all this time,” Museveni said.

He urged investors to add value to the minerals or else leave the minerals to rot down in the ground. If you do not want to add value here, we shall not allow you to export and I banned all the export of unprocessed minerals. Let the minerals stay in the ground, in any case they have been there for millions of years,” Museveni said.

“Anybody who does not want to add value doesn’t have to come here. Some people threatened me and others started challenging me with the international policy. I answered that is an international policy for fools. No minerals will leave Uganda if it is not processed,” he said.

He commended Woodcross Resources for investing in tin refining, stressing that adding value to tin and other minerals will not only increases the price but will also create jobs for the unemployed youth.

Museveni speaking to some of the investors of the tin refinery (Photo by Joshua Nahamya).

He said miners and the country have been getting little money from the export of raw tin.

“They have been giving Shs 45,000 per kilogramme of a rock to the miners that’s the only money Uganda has been getting but when you burn the rock into tin which is 99.85 percent percent pure, you get Shs 120,000 coming into the country, meaning that the price has multiplied by three times almost from Shs 45,000 to Shs 120,000 shillings now,” he said.

The President said a factory built in Uganda pays for other services such as electricity, telecommunication, water and other services.

He added that the production of tin in the country will attract other mega investments in Uganda.

Meanwhile president Museveni contributed 30 million towards the growth of the LCI SACCO in Mbarara City.

Museveni also encouraged all the other tin miners to support the new factory with raw materials rather than exporting it unprocessed.

On her part, Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development warned people who have been involved in smuggling tin concentrates to the neighbouring countries to stop with immediate effect.

“Now that we have this factory here, I am going to swing in action with the police, our staff, and the inspectors, to make sure that we curb the illicit trade in these unprocessed minerals that are being smuggled to our neighbouring countries,” she said, adding that Woodcross Resources needs raw materials to continue operating.

Ministers and Members of Parliament looking at some of the finished goods from tin (Photo by Joshua Nahamya).

Nankabirwa stressed that Uganda has in place the relevant laws such as the Minerals and Mining Act, 2022 which introduced the production sharing agreement, thus appealing to the miners to observe those laws in the mining sector.

According to Omid Ameri, Managing Director Woodcross Resources, the new facility has refined 10 tonnes of tin for export thus appealing the Energy ministry to speed the processes of issuing them a licence to enable them export.

“Our first consignment of refined tin of 10 tonnes is already available and ready for export.  What we are kindly requesting is for the ministry to help us to put together the process within five days so that we are able to deliver our product to our buyers,” Ameri explained.

He also appealed to the government to consider waiving taxes namely; withholding tax, pay as you earn, and import duties to allow the factory to have enough funds to do business.

Purified tin ready for export (Photo by Joshua Nahamya).

“We would like you to consider waiving those taxes for a period of about two years in order to retain cash on the business and employ more people,” Ameri said

Tin is also produced from countries like China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru and Brazil.

The commissioning of the factory was also attended by ministers, legislators, religious leaders, investors, and Mbarara City local leaders among others.

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