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At least five international companies bidding for Kilembe Copper Mines in western Uganda have been approved by the cabinet subcommittee on privatisation, the Divestiture Reform and Implementation Committee, who has recommended each applicant to proceed to the final stage of the divestiture process
A report in the official 'New Vision' said the Privatization Unit (PU), which has been mandated to undertake divestiture of public enterprises, is expected to announce the successful bidder of the US$1bn-valued Kilembe Copper Mines in late April 2013.
"We are issuing the request for proposal and will be undertaking the due diligence concurrently in February and March, and the process should be complete by early May," an PU official was quoted as saying by local media.
The companies mentioned include Sino-Steel (China), Tibet-Hima Group (China), Konkola Copper Mines PLC (Zambia), Shree Minerals (Australia) and Gingko Energy Investments Company (China). There were initially close to 40 companies interested in Kilembe Mines and a formal opening of the responses to the 'Request for Confirmation of Interest Notice' was conducted in December 2012.
Uganda has been attempting to revive its once vibrant copper mines and boost its foreign exchange earnings by tapping into a lucrative mineral whose price has been rising on the international market.
Kilembe Mines was established and incorporated in Uganda as a mining company in 1950 and was originally owned by two Canadian companies, namely Frobisher and Falcon Bridge.
Production of copper began in 1956 and it reached peak in 1970 when maximum output of blister copper hit 17,000 tonnes annually, according to official figures. Production, however, declined thereafter following political instability until 1979 when the smelter finally closed down.