President Museveni Launches Uganda’s First Tin Refinery In Mbarara City

President Museveni Launches Uganda’s First Tin Refinery In Mbarara City

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has on Friday launched Uganda’s first tin refining plant in Ruti, Mbarara City.

The facility is owned by Woodcross Resources, a company which is composed of a mining division focused on the exploration, development and operation of mining licences in Uganda, a commercial-scale tin refinery located in Mbarara ; and a mineral trading division, purchasing concentrate from audited mining sites across the Great Lakes Region of East Africa.

Tin is a type of mineral ore that contains tin, a soft, malleable, silvery-white metal. Tin is commonly used in various applications, including as a coating for other metals to prevent corrosion, in the production of solders, as a component in electronics, and in the manufacturing of tin cans. 

During the launch, President Museveni who was in company of the First Daughter Mrs. Natasha Museveni Karugire, re-emphasized his call for value-addition to Uganda’s raw materials like minerals.

He said when minerals are exported unprocessed, Uganda loses a lot of revenue and other benefits that could steer the country’s socio- economic transformation.

“When it came to minerals, that is when we told them that if you do not want to add value, then we shall not allow you to export and I banned all exports of unprocessed minerals. Let the minerals stay in the ground, they have been there for a million years, if the present leaders don’t know how to do it, let them stay there, when more intelligent people come, they will do the needful. I will not be part of the crime of stealing people,” the President said.

“They have been paying Shs45,000 per kilogram for the unprocessed mineral but now once you process this stone and turn it into tin, the prices go up by three times almost, from Shs45,000 to Shs120,000. But secondly, that processing needs employees and a factory like this one. If the minerals had been taken out unprocessed, these jobs would not be here but that is not all, when the factory is here, he cannot use his electricity and water from Canada, he must use the ones here and he pays for them and other benefits,” he added.

President Museveni further explained that value addition on tin will attract more investors to Uganda who use the mineral as raw material since it reduces the cost of doing business.

“It will now be easy for other manufacturers to use the tin directly,” he said. 

“I want to thank Woodcross, thank you for being Christians because Christians behave in a fair way and I believe also the Muslims believe in the same; let the country which has got the minerals get the advantages of those minerals but you also get your share.”

At the same event, the President also reiterated his call to add value to Ugandan coffee.

“I’m very happy to be here to witness the new victory of liberating Africa from slavery. I don’t want any more distraction by any actors. The coffee which I told my son Mpaka about; the good beans of coffee, what they call screen 18, when we export it after removing the husk, we get USD 2.5 per kilogram, when somebody roasts it, and grinds it outside, he gets USD40. So that is what I told you, how can you accept this. The coffee must be processed here, what is the problem? Why do you have to go and process it outside and all the money and the jobs go. The shirt I’m putting on is Ugandan made. It is the same story, if you export cotton, you will get like USD1 per kilogram, when I make a shirt like this one from the same cotton, I get like USD15 and jobs. We should not export unprocessed minerals,” he stressed.

The President also cautioned Ugandans against leaders who squander African wealth, people who try to do what they cannot do, the uninformed and the traitors.

“This is what has been happening and when the NRM came, we told you from the beginning that we are not part of that group of people who want to  be leaders and don’t know what needs to be done, that is very dangerous.”

On the other hand, President Museveni contributed Shs30 million to the SACCO of LC1 Chairpersons in Mbarara City and Shs50 million to Pentecostal Churches in the city.

The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa thanked President Museveni for his visionary leadership and persistence for mineral value-addition that has enabled the country to have its first tin-processing plant. 

“Your Excellency, I remember, when I joined the ministry, there was a cabinet paper which had stayed in cabinet for a long time because you were insisting on value- addition, I tried to present it but there was a clause in that paper which indicated that we cannot achieve like 99 percent level of purity in tin because we don’t have the industry so we have to go slowly by slowly as industries come up. You chased me away from cabinet two times with my team and you created a cabinet committee which I chair so we went out determined to implement the directive on the ban of exportation of unprocessed minerals and also, we went to guide the companies on mineral beneficiation, and we were insisting on mineral value addition,” Hon. Nankabirwa said.

The Minister also informed the President that companies which have not been adding value to the country’s minerals have run out of business.

“I must congratulate Woodcross Resources for setting up the tin smelting plant, the first of its kind in Uganda. Woodcross determined the level of purity because they have the smelters and they were also allowed to export samples and when they got back to me with the determined level of purity of 99.9 percent, my team and I in the Ministry were satisfied. And therefore, using the Attorney General, I signed a Statutory Instrument confirming the level of purity of tin smelted and refined in Uganda as 99.85 percent and above. Whoever is interested in tin mining and smelting, the level of purity which is already determined is 99.85 percent and above. That is what every tin smelter will follow,” she added.

The Minister of State for Mineral Development, Hon. Phiona Nyamutoro congratulated Woodcross Resources for setting up the very first tin smelting company in Uganda.

“Your Excellency, today’s launch is a manifestation of the vision that you have always had as a leader. You have always been steadfast and today all the doubting Thomases get to see that your vision has always been clear from the word go,” Hon. Nyamutoro said.

“Your Excellency, the launch of this company is a wakeup call to very many young people across the country and I hope this goes as a resounding echo encouraging them to equip themselves with the necessary skills so that they are able to be utilised by such establishment and as we look forward to bettering the mineral sector, we would have young people directly involved in the mineral value chain so that we fast-track the development of our country.”

The Mbarara City South- Member of Parliament, Hon. Mwine Mpaka congratulated President Museveni and Ugandans at large for achieving a milestone of adding value to the country’s raw materials. 

“You have always told us about the bigger picture of value addition and even when we met and discussed coffee, the idea was to add value. You told us that from the 18th century, the biggest challenge of Africa has been value addition and today we are here to celebrate one of your achievements,” Hon. Mpaka said.

“What we are celebrating here is what you have always preached. I would also like to congratulate the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development led by Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa for this wonderful achievement because it is not only going to add value to our raw materials but also provide employment,” he added.

Woodcross Resources Managing Director, Mr. Omid Ameri was happy to confirm to the President that they managed to fulfil the promise they made to him two years ago that they will set up the tin refinery in Uganda.

“Woodcross acquired its first mining licence in Ruhama, Ntungamo district in April, 2022, one day before the government legislated value addition for minerals in Uganda. That decision by yourself made us go down the path of establishing this refinery as you see it today. We met you in the State House in August 2022 and we promised you that we will build this facility. I’m proud to be standing with our partners at the Ministry of Energy to confirm to you that we fulfilled the promise that we made to you two years ago,” Mr. Ameri said.  

“We need to understand why tin is important in order to really understand the significance of this project. If you look at the supply of tin globally, it has been concentrated in the hands of 5 or 6 countries for the last decades. Those countries include China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru and Brazil. Now for the last few decades all these countries are struggling to bring the product to market because reserves globally are declining so this provides a significant opportunity for a country like Uganda to establish a refinery like this and cement itself as a trusted producer of refined tin in the global market,” he added.

Mr. Ameri also noted that the facility has made Uganda the 11th country in the world to have a licensed commercial tin refinery.

“All this would be impossible without commitment to your vision of pushing for value-addition in the country,” he said.

The Mayor of Mbarara City, Mr. Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi also thanked President Museveni for his efforts in adding value to Uganda’s raw materials.

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