Mining is the extraction of natural resources from the earth’s crust for economic use.

Types of minerals found in East Africa

Metallic minerals

These include iron ore, gold cobalt, copper, tin, wolfram, tungsten, zinc, manganese e.t.c.

Non-metallic minerals

These include; petroleum, phosphates, soda ash, sand, clay, gypsum, mica, water, coal, e.t.c

Factors that have favoured mining in East Africa

  • Presence of a variety of mineral deposits which are exploited for over 20 years e.g. limestone in Tororo and Hima in Kasese, Diamond in Mwadui plug at Shinyanga and Soda ash from Lake Magadi.
  • Availability of adequate capital for investment in mining operations mainly provided by foreign investors e.g. Tullow oil.

  • Presence of abundant skilled and unskilled labour force for working in the mineral processing firms.
  • Presence of ready market which is both local and international e.g. Japan, China and USA.
  • Availability of well developed transport facilities linking the mineral zones to processing plants e.g. railways, roads e.t.c.
  • Supportive government policy to encourage mining operations e.g. through constructing transport and communication lines.

  • Availability of cheap hydro electric power and other energy sources like solar energy which is used for running machines in the sector.
  • Adequate supply of food from the neighboring communities to ensure continuity of the activity.
  • Most minerals in East Africa are found near the surface hence making it easy and cheap to exploit.

  • Improved political stability which has attracted foreign investors to invest in mining operations.


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.



Mining is the extraction of natural resources from the earth’s crust for economical use

Importance of mining to East Africa

Governments earn foreign exchange used for national development through the exportation of minerals to other countries.

East Africa is rich in mineral resources, including gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, and tin. These minerals are exported to other countries, which earns the governments of East Africa foreign exchange. Foreign exchange is used to purchase goods and services from other countries, which can help to promote economic development.

For example, the government of Tanzania earns about $2 billion per year from the export of minerals. This money is used to fund development projects, such as roads, schools, and hospitals.

Governments earn revenue by taxing the workers within the mining sector used for the development of infrastructure e.g. roads.

In addition to exporting minerals, governments in East Africa also earn revenue by taxing the workers in the mining sector. This revenue can be used to fund the development of infrastructure, such as roads, railways, and airports.

For example, the government of Kenya collects about $100 million per year in taxes from the mining sector. This money is used to fund road construction and maintenance projects.

It has led to the development of urban centers e.g. Tororo, Kasese, Mombasa and Kakamega hence promoting regional balance.

The mining sector has led to the development of urban centers in East Africa. This is because mining companies need to build infrastructure, such as roads, housing, and schools, to attract and retain workers. These urban centers also provide services to the surrounding areas, which can help to promote regional balance.

For example, the town of Tororo in Uganda has grown rapidly due to the mining of copper and cobalt. The town now has a population of over 100,000 people and is a major economic hub in the region.

Creation of employment opportunities for the people which boosts their standards of living e.g. engineers.

The mining sector is a major source of employment in East Africa. It employs millions of people, including engineers, geologists, miners, and support staff. These jobs provide a much-needed source of income for people in the region and can help to boost their standards of living.

For example, the mining sector in Tanzania employs about 1 million people. This is a significant number of jobs, especially in a country with a high unemployment rate.

It leads to the development of infrastructures e.g. schools and hospitals which lead to urbanization.

The mining sector can also lead to the development of infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals. This is because mining companies need to provide these services to their employees and their families. These developments can lead to urbanization, as people move to the area to take advantage of the new opportunities.

For example, the mining company AngloGold Ashanti has built a school and a hospital in the town of Geita in Tanzania. These facilities have improved the quality of life for the people in the area and have attracted more people to the town.

Improvement of international relations through trade which promotes world peace e.g. between Japan and Uganda.

The mining sector can also improve international relations through trade. This is because minerals are traded internationally, which can bring countries together. For example, Japan imports minerals from Uganda, which helps to promote trade between the two countries. This can lead to improved relations and peace between the two countries.

This leads to the diversification of the economy which increases government revenue and ensures constant capital inflow.

The mining sector can also help to diversify the economy of East Africa. This is because it is a source of income that is not dependent on agriculture. A diversified economy is less vulnerable to shocks, such as droughts or floods.

For example, the mining sector in Tanzania contributes about 10% of the country’s GDP. This diversification helps to ensure that the country’s economy is not overly reliant on agriculture.

Overall, the mining sector is an important contributor to the economy of East Africa. It provides jobs, generates revenue, and helps to improve infrastructure and living standards. The mining sector can also help to improve international relations and promote peace.

It leads to the development of industries that process the minerals leading to economic diversification e.g. Tororo cement industry.

Mining can lead to the development of industries that process the minerals, which can lead to economic diversification. This is because the processing of minerals creates new jobs and businesses, which can help to reduce dependence on a single industry. For example, the Tororo Cement Industry in Uganda processes limestone, which is a mineral that is mined in the country. The industry employs over 1,000 people and generates millions of dollars in revenue each year.

It leads to the development of agriculture through the provision of the market for food from neighbouring communities e.g. in Kasese.

Mining can also lead to the development of agriculture by providing a market for food from neighboring communities. This is because miners need to eat, and they often buy food from local farmers. For example, in Kasese, Uganda, mining has led to the development of a large market for food from neighboring communities. This has helped to improve the incomes of farmers and has also led to the development of new businesses, such as restaurants and hotels.

Roads and railway lines are constructed which lead to easy movement of goods and services.

Mining can also lead to the construction of roads and railways, which can improve the transportation infrastructure in a country. This can make it easier to move goods and services, which can boost economic growth. For example, the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway in Kenya was funded by the profits from the mining industry. The railway has helped to reduce transportation costs and has also made it easier to export goods from Kenya to other countries.

In addition to these economic benefits, mining can also have a number of social and environmental impacts. These impacts can be positive or negative, and they need to be carefully considered before mining projects are approved.

Some of the positive social impacts of mining include:

  • The creation of jobs
  • The provision of infrastructure, such as roads and schools
  • The increase in tax revenue for the government
  • The development of new businesses

Some of the negative social impacts of mining include:

  • The displacement of people from their homes
  • The pollution of water and air
  • The degradation of ecosystems
  • The exploitation of workers

It is important to weigh the positive and negative impacts of mining before approving a project. The decision should be made based on the specific circumstances of the project and the needs of the community.

Overall, mining can be a beneficial activity for East Africa, but it is important to manage it carefully to avoid negative impacts.