The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has approved the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for Makuutu Rare Earth (REE) Projects in Uganda.
The certificate of approval was issued to Rwenzori Rare Minerals Limited team in Uganda by NEMA Executive Director Barirega Akankwasah for REE projects in the districts of Bugweri, Mayuge and Bugiri on Wednesday 26th October 2022.
According to the Authority, the approval followed a comprehensive review of the ESIA studies undertaken by the developer and subjected to NEMA scrutiny including public disclosure of three public hearings, provision of written information on the project and ESIA, and stakeholder engagement meetings.
The approval followed a nine-month assessment by the NEMA culminating in two large public hearings with over 3,800 registered attendees demonstrating strong governmental and local stakeholder support.
After a review by government stakeholders and respective authorities, a public disclosure process was initiated in May 2022 with stakeholders providing feedback on the ESIA to NEMA.
Speaking at the ceremony, Rwenzori Minerals Chairman Hon/Sir Richard Henry Kaijuka noted that the Makuutu project is unique because after mining, soil productivity will be restored which will in turn boost Agriculture within the region.
Tim Harrison, Ionic Rare’s Managing Director said that the approval is a significant millstone and vote of confidence by the Government and community groups, signifying the pivotal role Makuutu will play in the social, economic development and growth of Uganda.
“This Project will set its sights on becoming Uganda’s flagship sustainable mine,” Harrison said.
The project comprises mineral processing plant and supporting infrastructure.
The Authority conditioned the project to ensure artifacts of historic value discovered during the mining are handed over to the department of museums and monuments.
The Authority asked the developer to liaise with Busoga kingdom and the respective chiefdoms thereunder, to implement programmes and measures aimed at ensuring preservation of cultural heritage within the project area in accordance with the institution of traditional or cultural acts, 2011 and historical Monuments Act, 1968.
Makuutu Rare Earth Project is operated by Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited (RRM), a Ugandan company which is 51% owned by Ionic Rare at present, with the company moving to 60% ownership on the completion of a Feasibility Study supporting the Mining Lease Application expected to be submitted to the Ugandan government at the end of October 2022.