Uganda announced on Tuesday that it is seeking investor interest in reopening a massive copper mine in the country’s west, which also has considerable cobalt resources.
Government geologists believe that the Kilembe mine, located in the foothills of the ice-capped Rwenzori mountains on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, contains roughly 4 million tonnes of ore containing 1.98 percent copper and 0.17 percent cobalt.
In a joint statement, Uganda‘s finance and mining ministries said, “We have encouraged corporations to express their interest in cooperating with the government through a mineral production sharing arrangement.”
“The restoration of Kilembe Mines will act as a catalyst for industrialization, creating major job possibilities and increasing revenue.”
The government did not say when it expected to have chosen an investor in its announcement.
The mine commenced production in 1956 and peaked at 18,000 tonnes of copper cathode per year in the early 1970s, before being shut down by Canadian corporation Falconbridge later that decade due to low copper prices and political unrest.
Since then, the mine has largely been abandoned. The Kilembe project now consists of a greenfield exploration area, a brownfield copper mine, a processing complex, a minor hydropower plant, and cobalt-rich tailings, according to the ministries.
Previous attempts to resurrect the mine have failed due to a commodities market collapse and a failed 2013 deal with a Chinese investor, which was subsequently cancelled after years of poor development and missed targets.
However, investors are exploring for new sources of copper, which is used in electric vehicles, after prices hit all-time highs earlier this year due to supply concerns.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni wants to increase prosperity through expanding the country’s mineral resources, which includes gold, base metals, uranium, rare earths, iron, titanium, vermiculite, and diamonds.