Grain Milling Machines Turn into Gold Processors in Namayingo

5965 Views Bugiri, Uganda

In short
The artisanal miners in this village dig up the gold ore (rock or soil particles) from as deep as 50 feet and crash it by hand into sizeable particles that are milled by the machines into rough powder. The grain-milling blades in the machines are replaced with blunt, hammer-like blades, which are used to crash the rock and soil particles

In what can be termed as domestic ingenuity, grain milling machines have been turned into gold ore processing machines in Nsango B gold mine in Buyinja sub-county, Namayingo district.

The artisanal miners in this village dig up the gold ore (rock or soil particles) from as deep as 50 feet and crash it by hand into sizeable particles that are milled by the machines into (rough) powder. The grain-milling blades in the machines are replaced with blunt, hammer-like blades, which are used to crash the rock and soil particles.

Hussein Maganda, an artisanal miner and processor says that the idea to use this technology was born out of the need to work faster and process more ore.

//Cue in: “We changed the blade…
Cue out: …put a hammer.”//

 At Nsango B, about 6 milling machines are used by the over 250 miners and processors. Maganda, who owns one of the machines, says that he charges between 6000 and 8000 shillings for every sack of ore processed.

The artisanal gold mining activities in Nsango started about year and a half ago, after Maganda and three other colleagues locally researched on the possibility of gold deposits in the area. He says that they used to go to freshly-dug pit latrines, pick soil particles and process them with mercury, until they were sure that the area indeed has gold deposits.

Maganda processes about 20 sacks of gold ore per day, and says that the richest ore is found between 50 and 120 feet underground. The miners use open-cast miming methods where huge pits are opened and then holes dug deeper into the ground.

Godfrey Mugela, another miner, is one of Maganda’s clients, who bring his sacks of ore to be ground at the mill. He says that at the start of the mining activities, mortars and pestles were used to grind the ore, a slow and labour-intensive process.

//Cue in: “We used to…
Cue out: …to work faster.”//

Maganda says that though he is able to earn some money from mining as well as processing ore for his colleagues, the milling machine takes up most of his income. After every ten sacks, the blade has to be replaced and the machine refueled.

The gold in the area occurs in small quantities the size of a millet grain, and this can be sold for about 8000 shillings.
The gold mining activities in this South-Eastern region started in neighboring Bugiri district about 3 years ago, but continue without any formalization and are unregulated by the government.