KAMPALA, June 8 (Reuters) - Uganda on Wednesday said recent exploration surveys have shown it has gold ore deposits of about 31 million tonnes and it wants to attract big investors to develop the sector hitherto dominated by small wildcat miners.
Over the last two years aerial exploration was done across the country followed by geophysical and geochemical surveys and analyses, Solomon Muyita, spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, told Reuters.
Muyita said an estimated 320,158 tonnes of refined gold could be extracted from the 31 million tonnes of ore.
Most of the deposits were discovered in Karamoja, a parched sprawling area in the country's northeastern corner on the border with Kenya. Large reserves were also found in eastern, central and western areas of the East African country.
Muyita said Wagagai, a Chinese company, had set up a mine in Busia in eastern Uganda and was expected to start production this year. Wagagai had invested $200 million, he said, and its mine will have a refining unit.
President Yoweri Museveni's government has been seeking to ramp up investment in mining to develop resources like copper, iron ore, gold, cobalt and phosphates.
Parliament early this year enacted a new mining law that, once signed by the president, will pave way for the creation of a state mining company.
The company will compulsorily acquire a 15% stake in every mining operation and investors will be required to sign a production-sharing agreement with the government. Previously investors were given mining production licenses on a first-come, first-served basis.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Mark Porter)
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