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Uganda to Import Coal, Natural Gas From Tanzania for Steel Production

Government plans to import coal from the neighbouring Tanzania to support local production of iron and steel. The plan is contained in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) five-year re-election manifesto for 2021 - 2026 launched by President Yoweri Museveni on November 3, 2020.

"In the short term, working with the private sector, Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) will provide a dedicated ship to transport coal from Tanzania to Uganda to support local production of liquid steel," the Manifesto reads in part. In the manifesto Museveni also pledges to reduce transportation of the iron ore from Muko and other mines to factory for processing.

Iron ore is a heavy mineral to transport and thus it has to be processed near the mines.

"In the medium term, government will develop the natural gas pipeline from Tanzania to Uganda to support local production of liquid steel," the Manifesto reads. Natural gas and coal are crucial in the production of the iron and steel.

Though Uganda is endowed with high quality iron ore deposits mainly in south western region, it not yet to be fully exploited due to lack of raw materials such as coal or natural gas. For instance, a total of 318 million tonnes of iron ore has been discovered in Rutenga, Kabale and Muko in southwestern Uganda.

New discoveries have also been made in Kanungu, Buhara (Kabale district) and Mayuge districts an estimated total reserve of 200 million tonnes.

Iron ore is a crucial in making iron and steel products - which are majorly used in construction, electrical appliances and cars among others - and the back borne of industrialization. This perhaps explains why government is placing a lot of emphasis on iron ore value addition among others.

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