Uganda invites bids for re-starting of copper mines

Mon Nov 5, 2012 11:43am GMT

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda has invited bids for the restart of production at its Kilembe copper mines near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and expects the winner to invest about $100 million in the project.

The mine was abandoned in the early 1980s due to political turmoil and lower copper prices in global markets.

"We already had a lot of inquiries from prospective investors (and) we are looking forward to a huge response," Alex Kalimugogo, team leader at the finance ministry's Privatisation Unit (PU), told Reuters.

Prospective investors have until the end of this month to submit their bids, he said.

In April, the president's office said a Chinese firm, Gingko Energy Co, was planning to invest $100 million over a five-year period to restart production at Kilembe.

Junior Energy and Minerals Minister Peter Lokeris said it was later realised that hand-picking the investor would have violated the country's procurement rules, thus the decision to open the process to competition.

The east African nation's Department of Geological Survey and Mines says Kilembe has an estimated 4 million tonnes of ore, of which 1.98 percent is estimated to be pure copper and 0.17 percent cobalt.

Kalimugogo said only 10 percent of the area believed to hold copper ore deposits had been explored, meaning the successful bidder will have to resume production at the existing mines and also conduct fresh exploration.

A worker checks a shipment of copper inside the plant at the copper refinery of Codelco Ventanas in Ventanas city, about 164 km (101 miles) northwest of Santiago, April 16, 2012. REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez
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