Copper was the major mineral mined at Kilembe. It was found together with cobalt.
Due to sharp decrease of world prices and decrease of copper deposits, the copper mine was closed down in 1975.
Copper was mined using the Adit method and taken to Jinja by railway for smelting.
From there, it was exported to many countries like Japan, Britain, and France.
Electricity to process the copper was obtained from the Owen Falls Dam at Jinja and Mobuku power station on R. Mobuku.
Water used in the mines was chiefly obtained from River Nyamwanba and River Mobuku which originate from the Rwenzori Mountain.
Benefits of copper mining to the economy of Uganda
- It stimulated the growth and development of Kilembe and Kasese towns.
- The need to exploit copper from Kilembe led to the construction of Uganda railway which today promotes transport and trade.
- The copper mine employed over 5000 workers which improved their standards of living.
- A lot of foreign exchange was earned through its exports leading to national development.
- Facilitated the development of Mobuku power station which provided electricity to the mine and parts of Kilembe and Kasese town.
- Stimulated development of agriculture for example Mobuku irrigation scheme was established to supply foodstuff to miners.
- It stimulated the development of other activities in the area e.g. fishing on Lake George which diversified the economy.
- It promoted international relationships between Uganda and Japan which boosted peaceful co-existence.
N.B. Though there is no copper production at Kilembe at this moment, in 2000 the Kasese cobalt plant was opened. It’s an investment owned by Uganda, France and Australia exploiting cobalt which is got from copper pyrites at Kilembe.