“Everything I have in life is thanks to mining tin. I have built two shops, and bought two pieces of land and 10 cows” says Kasheija Evariste, a production manager with African Panther Resources Uganda (APRU). Kasheija started mining in 2006 when he was 23 years old at Nyarubungo in Kikagati Sub-County, Isingiro District, Ugan-da. After working for 9 months at the site, Kasheija realized that he could increase his profit margin by selling minerals illegally and became an illegal trader. “There used to be a lot of chaos and disorganization, since the mineral trade was unregu-lated and anyone could enter the mine.” Although profits from trading were some-times larger than for selling minerals legally, prices were volatile and fluctuated significantly, activities were inconsistent, production often decreased and the site was vulnerable to security and safety incidents.
Kasheija explained that the introduction of the iTSCi system in Uganda helped reduce illegal trading significantly due to increased local transparency; “Before iTSCi, there was no clear price for minerals, whereas now prices are stable and widely known since there is a single collection point and tagging area.” Legitimate companies like APRU could more easily sell minerals to the international market at international prices and were therefore able to raise mineral prices to compete with the local black market. As a result, miners’ incomes increased and stabilised and illegal mining and trading was discouraged, boosting overall production.
In 2015, after the implementation of the iTSCi Programme, APRU offered Kasheija a formal position in the company because of his experience in mining. Prior to iTSCi, security in the area had not been a major concern and mining activities were carried out without threats or extortion from the military or police, however, with the iTSCi system in place, safety and security were further enhanced. The presence of iTSCi has helped to drive out unauthorized and illegal traders and miners from the site, and that has encouraged companies, such as APRU, to improve working conditions and occupational safety in the pits.Illegal trading is still a challenge for the mining sector in the region. However, as more mine sites are evaluated and integrated into the iTSCi programme, companies and miners alike are encouraged to follow better practices, reducing illegal activities and ensuring a safer and more productive working environment.