Hima Cement, Uganda (Lafarge)
ECCR has been investigating concerns about a limestone quarry situated near to the town of Dura in Kamwenge district, western Uganda. The quarry has recently been reopened by Hima Cement, a subsidiary of international construction materials group Lafarge.
The quarry is situated within the borders of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, an area of very high biodiversity including close to 100 mammal species. The quarry is also adjacent to the Lake George Wetlands, a site designated as of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The area has experienced environmental degradation from previous mining activities.
Ugandan NGOs including the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) believe that mining licences for the quarry were issued unlawfully. This contention is being tested in the Ugandan courts. Should the courts find against Hima, the project may be halted.
There are concerns that quarrying, transportation and other activities associated with the project could have a negative impact on biodiversity. Unless properly managed, road transportation of limestone could also result in an increase in traffic accidents involving the local population.
ECCR believes it imperative for the company to act on these legal, social and environmental concerns and to take every feasible step to ensure that the project, if allowed to continue, does not have negative impacts. We have exchanged correspondence with Lafarge to this effect (see below). While the company is responding on some of these issues, we remain concerned about potential impacts and will continue to monitor the situation.
Christoph Schwarte: Access to environmental information in Uganda, Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development, 2008 - on the Ugandan government's lack of institutional capacity to provide open and transparent information on environmental matters