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Uganda Raises Tin Purity Standards for Export

Energy Minister Ruth Namkabirwa (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA, UGANDA— In a landmark move aimed at enhancing value addition to Ugandan minerals before export, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, has signed a new statutory instrument that sets higher purity levels for tin exports. The instrument was signed at the Ministry headquarters at Amber House, Kampala, on December 22, 2023.

“I am happy today to sign a Statutory Instrument on the Level of Purity of Tin as a Mineral,” Dr Nankabirwa stated. She emphasised that this initiative aligns with the President of Uganda’s directive to halt the exportation of unprocessed minerals, including tin.

Under the new statutory instrument, the minimum purity level for tin exports has been raised significantly to 99.85%, up from the previous range of 67% to 70%. This change is expected to transform the tin mining and processing industry in Uganda.

Dr. Nankabirwa highlighted the role of Wood Cross, a company that has recently established a tin smelting plant in Mbarara, Western Uganda. “They have been waiting for this statutory instrument to start the tin processing process,” she said, indicating that the plant’s commissioning is expected in January.

The minister also addressed the issue of tin smuggling, warning that the government will intensify monitoring to protect the industry and ensure the availability of raw materials for the new smelting plant. “We are going to swing into operations to make sure that this company is not denied of the raw materials,” she said.

Looking ahead, Dr Nankabirwa mentioned that similar purity standards would soon be established for other minerals like vermiculite and the 3Ts (Tin, Tantalum, and Tungsten). “Vermiculite and the 3Ts are to be dealt with very fast,” she added.

Tin, which is predominantly mined in western Uganda areas of Isingiro, Ntungamo and Mbarara, is primarily used in solder, an alloy that is essential for joining pipes and electronic circuits. It’s also used in plating, to prevent corrosion, and in various alloys, such as bronze.

The 3T minerals are often grouped together due to their related uses and the challenges associated with their mining and trading.

The new policy is expected to create job opportunities and significantly boost revenue from mineral exports. “We’ll make much more money in this processed tin than the semi-processed tin,” Dr Nankabirwa concluded, underscoring the economic benefits of this new regulation.

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