Tracks laid in 1955
when the western
extension was built
from Kampala to
Kasese to service
the copper mine
at Kilembe
 
Kampala, Uganda — MININGREVIEW.COM — 24 October 2008 – After 32 long years of near-dormancy, the Kilembe copper mines in Uganda have finally received a serious approach from a company which has tabled a multi-million dollar bid to re-stoke its cold tunnels.

Reporting from Kampala, allAfrica.com quotes The Monitor as revealing that Austrian industrial group, A-Tec Industries – a leading copper company in Europe – is emerging as a favourite with a bid of US$200 million (R2 billion) to take up the operation.

The company has already set up a subsidiary in Uganda – A-Tec Industries (U) Limited – which is to spearhead its ambitions to tap into the natural resources in East and Central Africa, starting with Uganda.

Thirty two years ago, Uganda was one of the leading exporters of copper raw material to several countries, but the industry collapsed under mismanagement and political interference in 1970s. Former owners Falconbridge – the Canadian company that managed the mines – sold all its shares to the Ugandan government in 1975.

As a first step, A-Tec has signed a deal to operate the dilapidated former copper smelting plant, based in Jinja, alongside the state-owned Kilembe Copper Mines, and its first-trial production is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2009.

A-Tec Industries Uganda managing director Thomas Eggenburg says his company has done all the due diligence, and is waiting for the nod from the government to formalise the deal.

“We want to show our worth in this business, starting by spending another US$25 million (R250 million) refurbishing and recycling the copper slabs at the smelting plant,” he added.

“Preliminary surveys indicate that there is still an estimated 400 metric tonnes of copper ore in Jinja, and some minerals in the copper slabs that would be recycled.

Kilembe Mines general manager Fred Kyakonye says more than four million tonnes of copper ore remain unexploited in the explored area, and there is a further 4 000 acres of unexplored deposits on the mining lease.