African Gold Refinery (AGR), the first and biggest gold refinery in East and Central Africa has officially opened in Uganda. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni launched the Entebbe based refinery on February 20, 2017.
In his remarks, Museveni stressed the critical importance of value addition, noting that AGR’s state-of-the-art refinery will benefit the country.
Uganda’s raw gold exports rose from US$250,000 in 2013/14 to over US$200,000,000 in 2015/16. This meant gold became the second leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda after coffee.
“Anybody who delays investors must stop and we shall be harsh on them. The problem with gold in Africa is smuggling, we must wake up.
Apparently there’s some stupid tax called royalty and I am going to remove it. Even those who are in transit will be exempted from tax,” Museveni said, adding: “…so miners from Mubende, Busia and Buhweju should bring their gold to AGR instead of smuggling it out.”
He added: “This will be the only gold refinery in East and Central Africa. Dubai alone has 14 gold refineries. It is our right to add value to our own resources.”
“Established in Uganda in 2014, AGR currently processes 250kgs of gold a week, 1 ton per month, and has the capacity to increase processing capacity two fold.
The company is 100% owned by Alain Goetz and has contributed Shs1.8bn to the Ugandan treasury (approximately $515,000).
“AGR’s inward investment to date amounts to $23,000,000 and the company employs over 75 local staff members. Alain Goetz, CEO and founder of AGR, said, “At AGR we are acutely aware of the many controversial issues surrounding the regional gold trade. We are working very closely with our local and international partners to address these issues.”
He added: “We stress that we are not a gold buyer, but a refiner and the credentials of all our clients are checked by our due diligence team.
“We are also looking forward to working with the Government of Uganda to address a number of the long-term issues concerning local, artisanal mining and establishing a robust and transparent mechanism for regional and international traceability.”