Kilembe mines closed over environmental non-compliance

Copper mining at Kilembe mines in Kasese district has been put to a halt for close to a year now since the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) found out that there was non-compliance to environmental standards.

In February 2016, NEMA wrote to the management of Tibet Hima, a mining company that took over Kilembe mines limited in June 2013 warning them about waste management.

In the letter the NEMA Executive director, Dr. Tom Okurut said the authority noted with concern that despite numerous reminders and notices to the mining firm advising it to comply with environmental requirements applicable to the Tibet Hima Mining Company Limited (THMCL) mine developments and operations, the Company had failed to address has not addressed these issues as needed.

According to February 25, 2016 letter, THMCL was supposed to have addressed the management and disposal of mine tailings.

Okurut argued that before Uganda enacted environmental laws and standards, tailings were dumped in the nearest convenient location including nearby wetlands or rivers but this would introduce sediment and contaminants into water bodies and adversely affect aquatic life.

NEMA advised that a facility engineered for proper tailings treatment or handling/storage is established by the company to be guided by relevant environmental laws and procedures.

The Kasese district Environmental officer, Augustine Kooli said that the operations at Kilembe mines were closed temporarily until the company comes up with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)