Yoweri Museveni, President, Uganda

UGANDA’S Parliament could consider a cabinet-approved draft mining law allowing the government to take stakes in private mining companies as early as next week.

Citing a statement by the country’s junior energy and minerals minister, Sarah Opendi, Reuters said the draft mining law could also impose steep penalties for violations in the sector including prison terms of up to seven years.

The draft law provides for “state equity participation in large, medium and small scale mining up to a maximum of 15%,” Opendi said in the statement.

Reuters said the draft law mirrors others in the region, including in Tanzania, where authorities have sought to extract more value from natural resource wealth they see as having unfairly benefited international mining firms at the expense of locals.

Opendi said the draft – which will be presented to parliament for debate and eventual passage into law – could be sent to parliament as early as next week since the cabinet had now approved it.

When enacted, it will replace a law that has been in place since 2003, said the newswire.

Investors would be required to enter production sharing agreements with the government. Previously, companies could apply and be granted mining licences on their own.

President Yoweri Museveni’s government has been seeking investment in the sector to increase exploitation of resources, such as copper, iron ore, gold, cobalt and phosphates, said Reuters.