Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has banned exports of graphite to preserve the mineral for local use.
Zachary Baguma, director at the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines (DGSM), which issues mining leases, said the president had directed that no mining or exportation licences should be issued.
“The president said that graphite should be used here [in Uganda] to make battery electrodes, pencils, and other products from the mineral,” Mr Baguma told The EastAfrican.
Australian firm Consolidated Africa Ltd (CAL) (CRA NSX) has finished exploration of a 323 square-kilometer area and found graphite deposits near Kitgum, some 660km northeast of Kampala.
“On completion of the share sale agreement, the company will explore and exploit the potential of the graphite deposits,” CAL says on its website.
The Australian miner has three licences to explore minerals and other metals in the same area known as the Orom Project.
Baguma confirmed that CAL has already applied for a mining lease.
Information from DGSM shows that if drilled up to 50 meters, the yield of graphite is 1.7 billion tonnes, but if the drilling goes to 100 meters, the output could increase to 3.4 billion tonnes.
According to Mr Baguma, geological and geophysical surveys and sample analyses that were carried out by CAL confirmed that Uganda’s graphite is of higher quality than that of Tanzania, Madagascar and Canada.
Once the mining starts, it is expected to create about 10,000 jobs for locals.
Graphite is also mined in other countries in the region. In 2016, Tanzania granted Australia Stock Exchange-listed Graphex Mining Ltd (ASX: GPX) a 10-year mining licence for graphite deposits discovered at Chilalo area in Nachingwea.
The other graphite-rich areas in Tanzania are Epanko in Mahenge, Morogoro, Tanga and Merelani in Arusha; these are owned by Kibaran Resources Ltd (ASX: KNL), an Australian company.
In Kenya, graphite bearing rocks are found in the western part of the country.
Commodity futures markets predict that a tonne of high quality graphite could cost $6,175 from 2020.
Currently, China tops the list of graphite exporters. In 2017/2018, graphite exports were 201,695 million tones, which exceeded the country’s exports of 2016 by around 58 per cent.
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