Wagagai Gold Plant Set to Sparkle into Operation in March 2024

Wagagai Mining (U) Limited, a multi-million-dollar large-scale gold mining and refining facility in Alupe, Busia (Eastern Uganda), will commence production in March 2024.

“Our target is to get this facility ready for full production by March next year (2024). We shall have the commissioning event for the facility between March and April 2024,” said Mr Tan Jiuchang, the company’s general manager.

Addressing the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Mineral Development that visited the facility on July 26, Mr Jiuchang said the firm is setting up all aspects of the mining value chain, including exploration, mining, beneficiation, smelting, refining, logistics and foreign trade sales.

“We have so far sunk in over US$200 million to construct the ground infrastructure to completion,” he said, adding that the plant has an installed capacity to process 5 tons of gold ore per day and refine gold to 99.99 per cent purity.

The Cabinet team, led by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, comprised the Ministers of State: Mr Jacob Oboth-Oboth (Defense), and Mr Amos Lugoloobi (Planning), among others.

Mineable gold ore in a greenstone belt in the Busia district under Wagagai covers a total area of 9.13 sq. km “with a proven gold ore reserve of 15 million tonnes”, but the ore reserve is “expected to exceed 30 million tonnes over a life of 30 years”.

“This project is planned and designed by Shandong Gold Design Institute of China, equipped with the world’s most advanced mining equipment and professional management team. During operation, it will provide 3,000 local jobs, create an annual foreign exchange of US$100 million, and pay US$10 million in tax,” said Mr Jiuchang.

The visiting team toured the mega plant’s facilities, including the network of underground tunnels and an 800-metre shaft linking all the underground tunnels that will be used to transport the mined gold ore to the surface for processing. The team also toured the foundation of a Gold Refinery under construction, a modern laboratory, storage facilities and the machinery used in exploration and mining.

Dr Nankabirwa said Cabinet’s mission was to establish the status of the country’s ongoing initiatives to add value to Uganda’s minerals before export, in line with the presidential ban on the export of unprocessed minerals from Uganda. “We appreciate the ongoing efforts, not only to mine gold at this facility on a large scale but also to have it processed up to 99.99 per cent purity,” said the Minister.

Responding to Mr Jiuchang’s comments that Wagagai would be the most significant power consumer in the region, the Minister said plans were underway to construct a 400kV powerline from Karuma to Tororo and a bigger substation to enhance electricity reliability in the area.

Minister Lugoloobi said the government was reviewing its revenue strategy within the gold industry to put in place initiatives to enable fair and optimal benefits for both the investor and the country.

Minister Oboth-Oboth said he had taken note of the facility’s security requirement, adding that the government would provide adequate security to the plant.

Uganda is one of the few African countries rich in mineral resource deposits, including Gold, Uranium, Iron ore, Limestone, Marble, Copper, Cobalt, Phosphate, and Lithium. Additional exploration projects for gold reserves with promising results continue in the Buhweju, Mubende, Namayingo, Karamoja, Kisoro, and Zombo districts.

Cabinet Sub-Committee on Minerals comprises the Ministries of Energy and Mineral Development, Trade and Industry; Science and Technology, Defence and Veterans Affairs; Finance, Planning and Economic Development, and the Attorney General’s Chambers.