A senior official in the Ministry of Energy has defended the Entebbe-based Africa Gold Refinery (AGR) over suspicion that it refines illicit gold from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
The Belgian-Owned African Gold Refinery has been refining gold in Uganda since February when President Museveni launched it to add value to Uganda’s gold before export.
But the Refinery has not been spared of claims that it refined illicit gold from DRC and South Sudan. Some have claimed gold from DRC and South Sudan is being used to fuel conflicts in the region.
London-based watchdog, Global Witness, in May highlighted a dark side to AGR dealings including corruption and refining illicit gold.
But Engineer Joseph Okedi, an Assistant Commissioner for Mines, has defended AGR saying it is helping Uganda trace gold that previously was hard to trace.
Bank of Uganda official figures indicate that gold exports from Uganda reached 340 million Dollars in 2016 from 237,000 Dollars in 2014. Activist groups have also questioned where AGR is getting the gold to sustain its production.
One of the AGR directors, former energy minister Richard Kaijuka, was quoted by Global Witness saying the gold is taken to the refinery’s door steps and that it doesn’t matter where it comes from.